State of Environment

Indicator 31 - Annual population estimates of Southern Elephant Seals at Macquarie Island

Index: Description | Data | Custodian evaluation | Related resources | Parameters


Responsible organisation

Australian Antarctic Division ( Australia )


No custodians.

Theme area


Indicator type


Criteria the indicator satisfies

The following 14 out of 15 criteria

1. Serve as a robust indicator of environmental change
2. Reflect a fundamental or highly-valued aspect of the environment or an important environmental issue
3. Be either national in scope or applicable to regional environmental issues of national significance
4. Provide an early warning of potential problems
5. Be capable of being monitored to provide statistically verifiable and reproducible data that shows trends over time and, preferably, apply to a broad range of environmental regions
6. Be scientifically credible
7. Be easy to understand
8. Be monitored with relative ease
9. Be cost-effective
10. Have relevance to policy and management needs
11. Contribute to monitoring of progress towards implementing commitments in nationally important environmental policies
12. Where possible and appropriate, facilitate community involvement
13. Contribute to the fulfillment of reporting obligations under international agreements
15. Where possible and appropriate, be consistent and comparable with other countries´┐Ż and state and territory indicators

Date input

Yearly measurements

Monitoring location

Geographic coverage


Temporal range of the available data, as described by the metadata record, is from 15-Oct-1985 .

1988 to 2015
Number of data points

To view or download any of the data, you must be logged in

Data quality, interpretation and analysis of indicator data

Data usage constraints

' This data set conforms to the PICCCBY Attribution License ( Please follow instructions listed in the citation reference provided at when using these data. '

Data access constraints

' These data are publicly available for download from the URL given below. A copy of the word document describing the census methodology adopted in 2005 is also available for download from the URL given below. '

Custodian evaluation

15 Apr 2002

The data to date show that the number of breeding cows on Macquarie Island have been declining at ~1.2% per year for the last decade. This indicates that the large ocean environment that the seals forage in (the whole Southern Ocean between M.I. and Antarctica and west to Heard Is and east to the Ross Sea) is becoming less and less suitable for foraging by Southern Elephant Seals. It seems likely that present changes in ocean circulation in this huge area have resulted in reductions of plankton stocks to squid and myctophid fish (the major prey groups of Southern Elephant Seals) in accessible foraging areas for the seals compared to previous decades. There has been no appreciable and current competition between Southern Elephant Seals and fisheries in the Southern Ocean to date. Thus the seal decrease is attributable to "natural causes" as above.

11 Nov 2002

Condition scale - 4 - fair condition
1 - the environment degraded to the point where rehabilitation is impossible
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7 - the environment is pristine, in perfect condition, no anthropogenic influences
State of Knowledge scale - 6
1 - Poor
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
7 - Excellent

For definitions of the Scale categories, consult the Explanation of the Status Categories

Related resources

Project 2265 - Factors controlling the population status of the southern elephant seal Mirounga leonina at Macquarie Island
Scientific Bibliography 17287 - Hindell, M.A., Burton, H.R. (1987) Past and Present Status of the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina) at Macquarie Island. Journal of Zoology 213. pp 365-380.
SOE Indicator 27 - Regional populations of Adelie penguins in the vicinity of Casey, Davis and Mawson.
SOE Indicator 28 - Standard demographic parameters for Adelie penguins at Mawson
SOE Indicator 29 - Breeding population of the Southern Giant Petrel at Heard Island, the McDonald Islands and within the AAT
SOE Indicator 31 - Annual population estimates of Southern Elephant Seals at Macquarie Island
SOE Indicator 32 - Fecundity and pup growth in fur seal colonies on Macquarie Island
SOE Indicator 33 - Annual catch in tonnes of marine species harvested in Australian Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters
SOE Indicator 36 - Numbers of species protected at various levels of conservation status
SOE Indicator 37 - Species and numbers of species killed, taken or interfered with or disturbed in the Antarctic and the sub-Antarctic for the purpose of scientific research
SOE Indicator 45 - Monthly collections of marine debris from Sandell Bay beach on Macquarie Island (categories and mass)
Taxonomy 26 - Mirounga leonina Southern Elephant Seal


The properties link can be used to view details of the parameters measured for this indicator.

Parameter Name Unit of measure Properties
Number of breeding females - Full census Properties
Number of breeding females - Partial census Properties

The following parameters and/or sensor notes are from the metadata record.



Related URLs
Citation reference for this metadata record and dataset
Download page for Australian Antarctic Data Centre - SIMR Access 2000 Database
Download point for the word document detailing the methodology adopted in 2005
Download point for the complete census spreadsheets