In September each year, over one million Short-tailed Shearwaters arrive at Phillip Island to breed from their Aleutian Island feeding grounds (near Alaska, USA), most completing this extraordinary 15,000km migration in less than four weeks.
Phillip Island's coastal cliffs are important breeding habitat for these seabirds. Short-tailed As top predators and major consumers of marine resources, shearwaters play an important ecological role in connecting marine and terrestrial habitats by delivering essential ocean nutrients to their island nesting grounds. Operating on a global scale (between the Southern and Northern hemispheres) means that Short-tailed Shearwater health is an important indicator of ocean ecosystem health and so protecting them also protects the many plant and animal species they share their vast habitat with.
Given this, it is critically important for marine scientists to better understand the implications of marine and terrestrial threats to Short-tailed Shearwaters including commercial fishing operations, ingestion and entanglement of plastics and marine debris, artificial light pollution, climate change, introduced predators, habitat destruction and invasive weeds in order to protect them.
Did you know?
Shearwaters are Australia’s most abundant seabird! They are thought to number approximately 23 million across their Australian range.
What your money helps fund
A Safe Island Haven
Phillip Island is completely fox-free, which provides a haven safe from introduced predators for shearwaters to breed. However, they still remain vulnerable to human activities such as habitat disturbance, artificial light at night, road trauma, marine debris and plastic pollution and feral cats.
Phillip Island Nature Parks works hard to provide a sanctuary for short-tailed shearwaters to return to each year. Nature Parks Rangers protect them through predator control programs, habitat restoration and management, education programs and shearwater rescue patrol efforts.
Research and Monitoring
Phillip Island Nature Parks conducts ongoing scientific research studies and monitoring activities to better understand the implications of local and global threats to short-tailed shearwaters and protect them well into the future.
Did you know?
Shearwaters also have the longest migratory route of all seabirds - travelling some 16,000kms through to the northern Pacific off Japan, Siberia and Alaska, and back again the following season.