Every year, more than 90,000 Sooty Terns nest on Teuaua where, until recently, invasive rats threatened this nationally significant population. Today, the terns are safe following the first successful rodent eradication in the Marquesas.
No two islands are the same and, even after twenty-five years, every project presents a new set of obstacles. “There are challenges you can plan for and those that arise unexpectedly,” explained Zito. The weather conditions shifted during the planned implementation. It was unseasonably wet and the normally sparse vegetation was overgrown.
Zito’s team re-evaluated the project and the ecosystem dynamics. The main food source for invasive rats were Sooty Tern eggs which were in low numbers at that time of year. Although the weather was not ideal, they determined the operation would still work.
Success on Teuaua sets Island Conservation and our partners up for restoring larger and more complex islands in the Marquesas, even in the face of sudden changes, enabling us to protect some of the Marquesas’ most highly threatened and endemic species.