Bense Island is the largest (c. 300 acres) and most modified of the parcel, having been grazed by sheep, cattle, horses, and rabbits. The last of the livestock were removed in 1985, although the rabbits remain. Rats and mice, accidentally introduced in the 19th Century, are also present. In addition, a fire in 1985-86 scorched about 25% of the island down to bare soil and rock. While a wide variety of plants and animals still remain on parts of the island, the fire has had an indirect impact that continues today. Loose peat ash from the burn zone has been shifted by wind and is now accumulating on top of healthy vegetation on the eastern side of the island.
Bense Island | View Gallery
Little Bense Island
Little Bense Island (c. 130 acres), is located about 200m off Bense Island. The two islands are separated by a rocky reef at low tide and this presents no barrier to the movements of rodents between the islands. Although Little Bense formerly hosted livestock until the 1980s, the grazing pressure here was light and it is in better ecological condition than Bense Island. There was no fire here, however, rats are present. Little Bense is home to a colony of about 60 South American sea lions and a wide variety of birds.
Little Bense Island | View Gallery
Cliff Island (c. 60 acres) is ecologically pristine and has never been inhabited or modified by human activity, probably because there are no easy landing sites. It is situated about 3 km from Bense Island and is completely covered by tussock grass. This island supports a wide variety of both sea and land birds and will be a valuable source of plants for the revegetation work to be done on Bense Island.
Cliff Island | View Gallery
The smallest of the SAFER Islands at less than 1 acre, Bradley’s steep rocky sides make landing difficult. The summit is crowned by a tiny patch of stunted vegetation and it is used as a roost by imperial and rock shags, sheathbills, and sea lions.
Bradley Islet | View Wildlife Gallery