Friday, 11 March 2011

New Island – where newly hatched albatross sit on million year old rocks

Our last landing started during sunrise in the early morning
New Island is a stop the Expedition team always looks forward to visiting. First there is the friendly greeting by Tony and Kim Chater and their two children (described by Tony as -- quite wild) and Georgina Strange and George who is originally from the Channel Islands. Then there is the easy stroll across the island to the large albatross, penguin and cormorant rookery.

The rocks that underlie this rookery are old. They were deposited 310 to 400 million years ago as seafloor sand dunes off the coast of what is now eastern South Africa. Today these rocks are hard sandstone layers and they form irregular steps and inclines for the penguins to clamber up to breed and feed their young during summer time. The Albatross have it a bit easier as they land (often awkwardly) among their hungry, nearly full grown chicks.
New Island is the home to over 40 species of birds. The Island was formerly a whaling station and later a sheep farm, now it is a Conservation Trust and all the wildlife is protected. No agricultural species are found there, other than the adults plus a few wild children. It is a special place and we are pleased to visit it today and again in the future.