October 30, 2015

2000 FRANCE (TAAF) - Kerguelen shags gazing at the vessel Marion Dufresne from the coast of Grande Terre (Kerguelen Islands)

The Kerguelen Islands, also known as the Desolation Islands, are a group of islands in the southern Indian Ocean which is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (French: Territoire des Terres australes et antarctiques françaises - TAAF). It is among the most isolated places on Earth, being located at more than 3,300km away from the nearest populated location. The main island, Grande Terre, is surrounded by a further 300 smaller islands and islets, forming an archipelago slightly smaller than Puerto Rico.

The climate is raw and chilly with frequent high winds throughout the year. The surrounding seas are generally rough and they remain ice-free year-round. There are no indigenous inhabitants, but France maintains a permanent presence of 45 (in winter) to 100 (in summer) scientists, engineers and researchers. The main base, the so-called "capital" of the islands, is known as Port-aux-Français. Principal activities on the Kerguelen Islands focus on scientific research, mostly earth sciences and biology.

The islands are located at the Antarctic convergence, where cold water moving up from the Antarctic mixes with the warmer water of the Indian Ocean. As a consequence, marine mammals, especially seals, and seabirds and penguins are numerous. Among the birds which live there is the Kerguelen shag (Phalacrocorax verrucosus), an endemic species of cormorant. The adult's upperparts, tail, and thighs are metallic greenish black; the underbody to the throat is white; and the wing linings are brown.

There are no airports on the islands, so all travel and transport from the outside world is conducted by ship. The Marion Dufresne II is a research and supply vessel named in honor of 18th century French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne launched in 1995 and having two main missions: logistic support for the French Austral Islands and oceanographic research. The ship, constructed by Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre of Normandy, was designed for the very severe weather conditions of the Southern Ocean.

About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting the flag of T.A.A.F., is part of a series of five definitive stamps issued in 2008.

The second stamp depict the vessel Marion Dufresne and was issued in 2008.

Kerguelen Islands - Wikipedia

Sender: Johan Chervaux
Sent from Port-aux-Français (Kerguelen Islands / TAAF / France), on 27.07.2015
Photo: Johan Chervaux

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