North West Island
North West Island shoreline
|Area||1.05 km2 (0.41 sq mi)|
|Local Government Area||Gladstone Regional Council|
North West Island is a coral cay in the southern Great Barrier Reef, located 75 kilometres northeast of Gladstone, Queensland. North West Island forms part of Capricornia Cays National Park and with an area of 1.05 km2, the island is the second largest coral cay in the Great Barrier Reef. It is part of the Capricornia Cays Important Bird Area.
Guano was mined on North West Island during the 1890s. Turtle soup canneries operated on the island from 1904 to 1914 and 1924 to 1926. The environmental importance of North West Island was recognised when it was included as part of Capricornia Cays National Park in 1994.
In mid April 2010, it was suspected that the 2010 Great Barrier Reef oil spill had reached North West Island. Small globules of oil were found along a 1 km long section of a beach. Clean-up crews were removing the oil by 14 April. A Maritime Safety Queensland spokesperson doubted the oil could have arrived on the island from the MV Shen Neng 1 so quickly, claiming the oil was from an earlier spill.
Flora and fauna
The vegetation of the island is dominated by dense Pisonia forest. North West Island is an important nesting ground for seabirds and turtles. As many as 500,000 seabirds habitat the island at any one time. Seventy per cent of the total breeding population of wedge-tailed shearwaters on Australia's east coast nest on the island. The Capricorn silvereye, a small bird endemic to the southern Great Barrier Reef, is found on the island. The green sea turtle and the endangered loggerhead sea turtle nest on the island between November and February. Because of these important rookeries the size of nesting populations is monitored on an annual basis.
- "IBA: Capricornia Cays". Birdata. Birds Australia. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
- "Coolangatta Gold champ Jacob Lollback found dead". The Courier-Mail (Queensland Newspapers). 23 September 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "Island oil spill is isolated: minister". Brisbane Times (Fairfax Digital). 14 April 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "Shen Neng 1 oil clean-up starts at North West Island". Herald Sun (Herald and Weekly Times). 14 April 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Colin J. Limpus, Kate M. Winter, John Meech, Holly J. Fisher, Matthew S. Harvey and Jonathon P. Hyde (2008). "Queensland Turtle Conservation Project: North West Island Study 2007-2008" (PDF). The State of Queensland. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- NPSR: Capricornia Cays National Park
- Dr Nicolas Magaud: Photos from an expedition to North West Island