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The Australian Island occupied By Two Million Penguins




If we think of any part of the world that is near Antarctica, we would probably expect to see a white islet covered with snow or ice. In contrast, Macquarie Island is a green piece of land, pertaining to Australia, which is the paradise of penguins and up to three-and-a-half million seabirds.
You may have passed some beaches where they say that the penguins go to rest, and after waiting for hours, they do not appear. On Macquarie Island, it's just the opposite: it's hard to see rock or sand.

Discovered by seal hunters

Macquarie was discovered in 1810 by seal hunters and was inhabited until its population of seals and elephant seals, which reached 100,000 specimens, was practically exterminated. Something similar happened in 1870 with an enormous colony of about four-million penguins, hunted to extract its fat.

Already in the 20th century, these activities ceased, but hunters and later inhabitants had brought mammals and other birds that adapted to the island and continued to damage their endemic fauna and flora.

To recover the ecosystem, first of all, the domestic animals like horses, pigs, sheep, and goats were taken from the island. The wekas (a very common non-flying bird in New Zealand) and cats were eradicated by the year 2000. And the last phase of return to endemic species ended in 2014 with the extermination of rats and rabbits. As this action plan progressed, the seabird population gradually recovered.

A unique place in the world

Macquarie Island is only 34 kilometers long and five kilometers wide. It belongs administratively to the Australian state of Tasmania and was classified as a protected area of that state in 1978.

But beyond its singularity as a natural reserve and ideal habitat for marine wildlife, it stands out as the only place on the planet formed by rocky material from the Earth's mantle, located six kilometers below the ocean floor. 

It is currently estimated that there are more than two million penguins in Macquarie, spread over four different species. Three-and-a-half million seabirds, including four species of albatross, in addition to seals and up to 70,000 elephant seals come to the island in times of nesting and molting.
In order to protect its ecosystem and its unique geology, it was declared a patrimony of UNESCO in 1997.


Where is Macquarie Island?



It is located in South Australia, about 1450 kilometers from Tasmania and about 960 kilometers from Stewart Island (New Zealand). In other words, just think is halfway between Australia and Antarctica.

The easiest way to get there -or the least complicated one- is on one of the Antarctic cruises that leave Hobart, Tasmania (Australia) or Bluff, New Zealand. In any case, as a protected place, the visits are very limited and a previous permission of the service of Parks and Wildlife of Tasmania is necessary to enter.
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