Introduction

Funk Island is a tiny outcrop in the North Atlantic, 40 km northeast of Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland; already thought to be, the edge of the world.

In the summer, it is home to more than a million seabirds, including the largest breeding colony of Common Murres in the world, and important populations of Northern Gannets, Thick-billed Murres, Atlantic Puffins, and Razorbills. It is also the former home of the now extinct Great Auk.

It’s a precious endowment but a delicate and vulnerable environment and for its protection, it has been designated a Newfoundland and Labrador Ecological Seabird Reserve. Unauthorized visits are prohibited. Research scientist, Bill Montevecchi is one of the few people who frequently visits Funk Island. He has been going there for decades to study the birds and their ocean environment, to monitor the health of the colonies and to observe the birds’ ongoing struggle to survive.

In this web series, we visit Funk Island with Bill as our guide and interpreter, and learn about the island’s inhabitants in the context of the larger marine environment, of which they are an integral part.

The website, consists of a series of 9 videos, each exploring different aspects of life on the island and of Bill’s scientific research. It is further supplemented by information  on the history of the human exploitation of the island’s resources and of its later use as a platform for scientific inquiry into the North Atlantic marine environment.

We highlight the resiliency and the vulnerability of seabirds, learn about their life cycles, observe the activities of research scientists, discuss the importance that Ecological Seabird Reserves have for the protection of natural treasures off our coast, and address the extinction of the Great Auk.

Bill’s thoughts and experience give us insights into the wonders that we witness and the role of science in understanding this “marvelous, terrible place”.