4. The Great Auk

The Great Auk

  • Last flightless bird in the Northern Hemisphere
  • Also referred to as Penguins
  • Closely related to Razorbills, Murres and Puffins
  • No relation to Antarctic penguins
  • About 1 metre tall and weighed about 5 Kg [12 pounds]
  • Funk Island was their largest known colony
  • Beothuk canoed to Funk Island to collect their eggs
  • Basque mariners used them as indicators of the New World fishing banks
  • Were exploited for food and bait from the 1500s through 1700s
  • Slaughtered for down for mattresses and quilts in the late 1700s
  • Gone from Newfoundland about 1800
  • Extinct in 1844 when the last known breeding pair was killed in Iceland
  • Today Great Auks are international conservation symbols



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