The Kerguelen Islands are a group of islands in the sub-Antarctic constituting one of the two exposed parts of the Kerguelen Plateau, a large igneous province mostly submerged in the southern Indian Ocean. They are among the most isolated places on Earth, located more than 3,300 km from Madagascar.
The islands are part of the Southern Indian Ocean Islands tundra ecoregion that includes several subantarctic islands. Plant life is mainly limited to grasses, mosses, and lichens, although the islands are also known for the indigenous, edible Kerguelen cabbage, a good source of vitamin C to mariners. The main indigenous animals are insects along with large populations of ocean-going seabirds, seals, and penguins.
The wildlife is particularly vulnerable to introduced species; one particular problem has been cats. The main island is the home of a well-established feral cat population, descended from ships' cats. They survive on sea birds and the feral rabbits that were introduced to the islands. There are also populations of wild sheep and reindeer.
In the 1950s and 1960s, French geologist Edgar Albert de la Rue began to introduce several species of salmonids. Of the seven species introduced, only brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis and brown trout Salmo trutta survived to establish wild populations.