Hungry Mice Are Attacking And Killing Adult Albatrosses On Land

Source: Hakai Magazine/Jenny Howard

Photo: Liam Quinn/Wikimedia Commons

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Years ago, unsettling news emerged from the subantarctic: supersized mice were killing and eating chicks in one of the most important seabird colonies in the region. But according to the latest research, the mice’s carnage didn’t stop there. Now, researchers have documented mice eating adult seabirds, a discovery with potentially huge ramifications for the seabird populations.

Christopher Jones, a seabird researcher with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the United Kingdom, was working on Marion and Gough Islands in 2017 and 2018 when he and his colleagues found three adult seabirds with gashing wounds, and 23 adults dead from suspected mouse attacks. “Obviously, it’s horrific,” Jones says.

On Gough Island, the victims were a critically endangered Tristan albatross and an Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross, and on Marion Island he found a northern giant petrel.

Separated by almost 4,000 kilometers, Marion Island, located in the southern Indian Ocean, and Gough Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the South Atlantic Ocean, host 28 and 22 seabird species respectively. Petrels, prions, shearwaters, and albatrosses call these islands home. Unfortunately, so do invasive house mice.

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Photo: Liam Quinn/Wikimedia Commons

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