Antarctic prion (Pachyptila desolata). Photo Credit: Mick Baines & Maren Reichelt/robertharding via Getty Images

Animals Macquarie Island 7. April 2024

Conservation Pays off for Threatened Seabirds

A newly published study on Macquarie Island shows that seabirds have recovered to the point that they can be delisted from their “threatened” classification.

Thanks to one of the largest publicly funded conservation investments in history, the small island is seeing a recovery in petrels, a group of highly specialized seabirds who play an important role in marine food webs.

In the 19th century, sealers and whalers introduced cats, rats, rabbits, and other animals to the island, ultimately leading seabird numbers to drop drastically. Between 2011 and 2014, the last of these non-native species were cleared from Macquarie, allowing seabirds to flourish again. The latest study specifically followed four species of seabirds – Antarctic prions, white-headed petrels, grey petrels, and blue petrels – and found that all four have increased in number, and trends suggest that they will continue to do so. Though this study shows a positive trend for the birds, scientists warn there is still a long way to go before their populations return to historic levels.

The Conversation

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