Macquarie Island

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Macquarie Island (or Macca) lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between New Zealand and Antarctica, at 54°30S, 158°57E. Politically, it is part of Tasmania, Australia since 1900 and became a Tasmanian State Reserve in 1978. In 1997 it became a World Heritage Site. It was a part of Esperance Municipality until 1993, when the municipality was merged with other municipalities to Huon Valley. The island is home to the entire Royal Penguin population on earth during their annual nesting season. Ecologically, it is part of the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra ecoregion.

Macquarie Island is an exposed portion of the Macquarie Ridge, and is located where the Australian plate meets the Pacific plate. It is the only place in the world where rocks from the mantle are actively exposed at sea level. Due to this it was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997.
The island has an approximate length of 34 km (21 mi) and a width of 5 km (3 mi), with an area of 128 km2 (49 sq mi). Near Macquarie Island are two small groups of minor islands, the Judge and Clerk Islets, 54°21′S 159°01′E, 14 km (9 mi) to the north, and 0.2 km2 (49 acres) in area, and the Bishop and Clerk Islets, 55°03′S 158°46′E, 34 km (21 mi) to the south, and 0.6 km2 (150 acres) in area.
The island is in two main pieces of plateau of around 150–200 m (490–660 ft) elevation to the north and south, joined by a narrow isthmus close to sea level. The high points include Mount Elder on the north-east coastal ridge at 385 m (1,263 ft), and Mounts Hamilton and Fletcher in the south at 410 m (1,350 ft).

Macquarie Island lies atop a geographic feature named for the island, the Macquarie Ridge. This seafloor ridge is aligned along the eastern margin of the tectonic plate boundary between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate. The Bishop and Clerk Islets mark the southernmost point of Australia (including islands). In the 19th Century the phantom Emerald Island supposedly lay to the south of Macquarie Island.

The flora has taxonomic affinities with other subantarctic islands, especially those to the south of New Zealand. Plants rarely grow over 1 m in height, though the tussock-forming grass Poa foliosa can grow up to 2 m tall in sheltered areas. There are over 45 vascular plant species and more than 90 moss species, as well as many liverworts and lichens. Woody plants are absent. The island has five principal vegetation formations: grassland, herbfield, fen, bog and feldmark. Bog communities include 'featherbed', a deep and spongy peat bog vegetated by grasses and low herbs, with patches of free water. Endemic flora include the cushion plant Azorella macquariensis, the grass Puccinellia macquariensis, as well as two orchids - Nematoceras dienemum and Nematoceras sulcatum.
Fauna found on the island include: Subantarctic Fur Seals, Antarctic Fur Seals, New Zealand Fur Seals and Southern Elephant Seals - over 80,000 individuals of this species. Royal Penguins and Macquarie Shags are endemic breeders, while King Penguins, Southern Rockhopper Penguins and Gentoo Penguins also breed here in large numbers. The island has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports about 3.5 million breeding seabirds of 13 species.
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