For some reason, I (a lover of travel writing ever since I read Tim Cahill's "Jaguars Ripped My Flesh" in college) immediately became fascinated with this tiny island. Who discovered it? Is it inhabited? Can you go there? What is it like? What lives there?
It's so remote and so unnoticeable that it appealed to me like a real-life Spidermonkey Island -- the only way you'd ever find it to go there is to spin a globe, close your eyes, and blindly stab with a pencil to choose your destination. Even better, Macquarie Island is supposed to be the jumping off point for the phantom Emerald Island, which was rumored to exist to the south and appeared on maps as late as 1987! An island in the middle of nowhere and linked to a phantom island that fascinated travellers for more than 150 years...how can you not find that intriguing, to say the least?
I won't go into all of the details about this minscule speck of land (only 21 miles long by 3 miles wide) because they're all here. Still, there are some cool facts worth repeating:
- Apparently this is the only place Royal Penguins breed.
- The island was the site of one of the strongest earthquakes ever measured (8.1 on the Richter Scale) but it was somewhat anticlimactic as the 22 scientists apparently slept through it.
- Apparently the island is overrun with rabbits, released by sealers in the 1870s to breed for food. Well, rabbits being rabbits, they bred like rabbits and began to overrun the island.
- So just how do rabbits manage to wipe out birds nests and penguin colonies? By eating all of the grass on bluffs overlooking those areas, resulting in landslides. Macquarie Island is apparently populated by Satan's bunnies.
- Cats were released to control the rabbits but then the cats began breed like rabbits and overrun the seabirds so the 2,500 cats were culled leading to, you guessed it, a population explosion of rabbits again.
In the meantime, if anyone knows someone working on Macquarie Island and who has Internet access, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd ask them to visit this blog. Now that would be a great place marker to show up on the visitor map for the blog. Actually, I'm wondering if Macquarie Island is even on that map! It might just be off the bottom edge of the world.