Funk Island, 25 ha, is a flat, 15 m high, wedge-shaped granite island 800 m by 400 m lying 60 km off Newfoundland's northeast coast, east of FOGO ISLAND
. The origin of the name is unknown, though it may have been inspired by the smell of the guano that covers much of the island. The west end is crowned by a 15 m cairn built by past visitors to this nearly barren spot. Jacques CARTIER
visited the island, as countless other mariners did, for the abundant eggs and birds found there. Once a favourite hunting ground of coastal residents, both native and European, it was the last known breeding place of the GREAT AUK
, Pinguinis impennis
(extinct from about 1840). Here "factories" were set up and the birds were boiled, their valuable feathers removed, and the bodies discarded. Consequently the island was the source of most of the great auk skeletons preserved in museums around the world. Today, still populated by thousands of murres, terns and puffins, the island is a seabird sanctuary protected by law.
ROBERT D. PITT
Links to Other Sites
Important Bird Areas in Canada
An extensive database of key facts and maps about bird populations, habitat types, and land use activities associated with Important Bird Areas across Canada. To search the database, click on "IBA database." Then, click on the "Show IBA List" button to see a list of these locations.
Great Auk Graveyard
Listen to scientists, fishers, and others talk about their connection to Funk Island, an Ecological Reserve off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. From "The Alder Institute" website.
Dr. W. A. Montevecchi
The website for Dr. W. A. Montevecchi (Memorial University) focuses on research into the ecology and behavioural strategies of marine and terrestrial bird species. Features photographs and video clips of birds in their natural habitat and more.
Wilderness and Ecological Reserves
Click on "Find a Reserve" for information about each of the wilderness and ecological reserves in Newfoundland and Labrador.