Funk Island Ecological Reserve, 60 km east of Fogo Island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, is home to more than one million common murres, numbers that make it the largest colony of common murre in the western North Atlantic.
And there's more. Other seabirds also come to the flat granite island to nest, including Northern gannet, Northern fulmar, Atlantic puffin, razorbill, thick-billed murre, black-legged kittiwake, and herring and great black-backed gulls.
As a seabird ecological reserve, Funk Island is now known for its ability to protect seabirds. This was not always the case. In previous centuries, Funk Island was one of the major nesting areas of the Great auk, and people came regularly to hunt the birds and take their eggs. The island's official name, in fact-"funk"-reflects people's awareness of the overwhelming odour of rotting bird droppings. The Great auk-large, flightless birds-were eventually hunted to extinction.
This loss shows how human activity can result in the extermination of a wildlife species. Making Funk Island an ecological reserve has helped other seabird species recover from similar exploitation and near extirpation from the island.
Funk Island is in the Eastern Hyper-oceanic Barrens ecoregion (862 KB). At 5.2 km2 (5 km2 of which is the marine component), the reserve is the smallest seabird ecological reserve in Newfoundland and Labrador, but it's also one of the most important. To protect the nesting seabirds, only scientific research activities are allowed on the island.
Funk Island was first protected in 1964 as a wildlife reserve under the Wildlife Act. In 1983, it was designated Funk Island Ecological Reserve, three years after the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act was passed.
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