Macquarie Harbour Islands - 2009
With the exception of Sarah Island there has been very limited survey work done on the natural values of the islands in Macquarie Harbour. The HSMT Survey Program offered an ideal opportunity for a multi-disciplinary group of experts to investigate the conservation and management needs of these islands.
Macquarie Harbour Islands Survey
Many of the islands within the Macquarie Harbour formed part of the Macquarie Penal Station during the early 19th century, and was known as one of the most notorious and harsh penal settlements. Once closed, however, the islands were never re-occupied and have been left virtually untouched since the mid 1800's. It is only in recent years that tourism has taken off in the area, with Sarah Island drawing thousands of visitors each year to see the old prisons, and Bonnet Island now open to tourists for penguin viewing. This increase in visitation is a concern as little is known about the ecological, geological and biological value of the islands within the Harbour. The ecological survey undertaken therefore aimed to investigate the flora, fauna and geology of numerous small islands within the Macquarie Harbour.
- A total of 122 vascular flora species from 56 families were recorded across the islands surveyed.
- One orchid species was found that was not known to occur in the south west of the state and this discovery has considerably increased the known range of this species.
- In addition to the cat records, introduced species newly recorded in Macquarie Harbour included the black rat, rabbit, four land snails, one collembolan, an amphipod and a spider.
- A sea eagle nest was found during the present study on Philips Island, and proposed activities on this island should avoid the breeding season
- The most notable find relating to management requirements was the record of cat hair on Philips Island and potentially on Cat Island.