The Sad Saga of Macquarie Island


Here's another one for the ""Oops!"" file. Macquarie Island was discovered by humans early in the 19th century, and was soon seeing a brisk traffic in sealers who brought more than just hunting supplies to the small island southeast of Australia. The introduction of rats and mice (inadvertently brought to the island on sealers' ships), cats (meant to control the population of rats and mice, of course), and rabbits (tasty victuals for the intrepid sealers) has virtually destroyed the island's ecosystem and caused the population of native seabirds to dwindle. A study conducted by scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and released earlier this month confirms that the most recent attempts to protect what is left of the natural flora and fauna have actually succeeded in creating conditions under which seabirds continue to die. Arko Lucieer, geologist at the University of Tasmania and co-author of the study, talks to GOOD News about the situation and a new plan to restore balance to Macquarie's ecosystem.

Macquarie Island (Wikipedia)

Australian Antarctic Division

Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island (Journal of Applied Ecology)