Detailed view of Cook's landing in Christmas Harbor, with Penguins in the foreground.
The Kerguelen Isnads were discovered by the Breton-French navigator Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen de Trémarec in February 1772. Soon after their discovery, the archipelago was regularly visited by whalers and sealers (mostly British, American and Norwegian) who hunted the resident populations of whales and seals to the point of near extinction, including fur seals in the 18th century and elephant seals in the 19th century.
In the past, a number of expeditions briefly visited the islands, including that of Captain James Cook in 1776. In 1874-1875, British, German and U.S. expeditions visited Kerguelen to observe the transit of Venus.