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You are in: Devon > Nature > Nature Features > Lundy: A Wildlife Haven

Puffin

Think of Lundy and you think of puffins

Lundy: A Wildlife Haven

Lundy Island may be stuck 12 miles out to sea, but it's still very much a part of Devon... it's also one of the most important wildlife sites in the country.

In Norse language, Lundy means Puffin Island. Yet these days, there are hardly any of the lovely creatures left on Lundy Island.

Their numbers have plunged from 3,000 pairs in 1939, to just 10 breeding pairs in 2000.

It's hoped that the controversial eradication of the island's rat population - blamed for eating puffin eggs - will assist a revival.

The two-year operation in 2003 and 2004 to wipe out around 40,000 rats appears to have been a success, and conservationists believe it will help the puffins and Manx shearwater populations.

Lundy Island

Lundy Island

Both are 'amber' on the RSPB's danger list and are in need of our help.

These are just two examples of the rare and beautiful wildlife on and around Lundy. 

The island is a granite outcrop measuring three-and-a-half miles by half-a-mile, and is situated 12 miles off the North Devon coast. At its highest level, Lundy rises to 400ft.

It's owned by the National Trust and managed by the Landmark Trust.

The seas surrounding Lundy are England's only statutory Marine Nature Reserve (MNR), which is managed by English Nature, while much of the island itself is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The island and the surrounding seas are protected because of the vast array of wildlife and marine life. In fact, Lundy has the finest diversity of any marine site in the UK.

A grey seal off Lundy

A grey seal off Lundy

To protect the sea life, the country's first fishing "no take zone" was introduced in 2003 and already, it has led to an improvement in the condition of important habitats - including corals, which are starting to grow again.

Among the species struggling to survive is the Red Band fish. There used to be 14,000 of them in the 1970s; now, there is just a handful left.

Basking sharks and dolphins can be spotted around the island, and there is a permanent colony of 60-70 grey seals.

The seas here are great for divers, with sea squirts, starfish, colourful jellyfish, sponges, pink sea fans, and Devonshire cup corals among the things to see.

The wildlife has traditionally thrived because of Lundy's unique position, which means warm waters from the Mediterranean mix with colder Atlantic currents to create perfect conditions for diverse wildlife.

Jellyfish off Lundy

A colourful jellyfish off Lundy

The island's position also means the two coasts are completely different, with the exposed west coast battered by the Atlantic and the east coast much more sheltered.

There are some 37 sea caves around the coast, and they're perfect pupping sites for the grey seals.

On land, Lundy is home to the Pigmy Shrew (you should see his long snout) - the only native terrestrial mammal on the island - and the famous Lundy cabbage.

Although a cabbage, it's definitely not for eating...and it smells of rotten eggs! The cabbage sustains two types of beetle: the Lundy cabbage flea beetle and the Lundy Cabbage Weevil.

Another important resident is the Purseweb spider, which is the only British member of the bird-eating spider family.

Visitors to Lundy are more than welcome, and there is a boat service from Ilfracombe and Bideford.

last updated: 15/05/2008 at 12:16
created: 11/11/2005

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