Îles Nuageuses

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Îles Nuageuses
Îles Nuageuses is located in Kerguelen
Îles Nuageuses
Îles Nuageuses
Location in Kerguelen
Location Near Loranchet Peninsula
Coordinates 48°38′S 68°39′E / 48.633°S 68.650°E / -48.633; 68.650Coordinates: 48°38′S 68°39′E / 48.633°S 68.650°E / -48.633; 68.650
Archipelago Kerguelen
Major islands Île de Croÿ, Île du Roland
Area 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi)
Highest elevation 518 m (1,699 ft)
Highest point Pic de l'île de Croÿ
Zone French Southern and Antarctic Lands
Population Uninhabited

The Îles Nuageuses (Cloudy Islands in English) comprise a group of small islands that are part of the subantarctic Kerguelen archipelago, a French territory in the southern Indian Ocean. They are important as a breeding site for seabirds, especially penguins and albatrosses, and for fur seals.

The islands are free of introduced species and are thus covered in dense subantarctic vegetation up to about 200 m. Human visitors are rare.[1]


The group is located in the northwestern area of the archipelago. It lies about 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) north-west, across the Jean-Baptiste Charcot Channel, from the tip of the Loranchet Peninsula, the northernmost extension of Grande Terre, the principal island of the Kerguelens. The islands are of volcanic origin.

The main islands of the Nuageuses are Île de Croÿ, Île du Roland, Île d’Après and the Îles Ternay, with the small Île Clugny some 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) to the south of the others. Far to the north lies the Îlot du Rendez-vous.[2] The highest point in the group is just over 500 m above sea level and the coastlines are mainly sheer cliffs.


The îles Nuageuses were first sighted during Yves Joseph de Kerguelen de Trémarec second expedition in 1773. They were so named after the frequently mist-covered tops of their cliffs and were referred to as Cloudy Isles by James Cook in 1776.[3]

Important Bird Area[edit]

The Îles Nuageuses, including Île Clugny, have been identified as a 240 km2 Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. At least 25 bird species breed on the islands. Penguins include 7500 pairs of gentoos, 35,000 pairs of northern rockhoppers and up to 50,000 pairs of macaronis. Of albatrosses, there are 1800 pairs of black-browed, 7800 pairs of grey-headed, 50 pairs of Indian yellow-nosed, about five pairs of wandering and some light-mantled albatrosses. Other birds breeding on the islands include Antarctic prions, Kerguelen, white-chinned, Wilson's storm and common diving petrels, and black-faced sheathbills. There are also small numbers of northern giant petrels, Kerguelen shags, Eaton's pintails and Kerguelen terns.

There is a large breeding colony of Antarctic fur seals as well.[1]

Pair of gentoo penguins with two chicks
The islands are an important breeding site for gentoo penguins
Îles Nuageuses and location in the Indian Ocean


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International. (2012). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Îles Nuageuses and Île Clugny. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 2012-01-20.
  2. ^ "Îles Nuageuses". Mapcarta. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  3. ^ Toponymie des Terres australes, Commission territoriale de toponymie avec le concours de Gracie Delepine, août 1973