Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia located in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia, 1,412 kilometres directly east of Australia's Evans Head and about 900 kilometres from Lord Howe Island. At the 2016 census, it had 1748 inhabitants living on a total area of about 35 km2.
As a relatively small and isolated oceanic island, Norfolk has few land birds but a high degree of endemicity among them. Norfolk Island is home to a radiation of about 40 endemic snail species. Many of the endemic bird species and subspecies have become extinct as a result of massive clearance of the island's native vegetation of subtropical rainforest for agriculture, hunting and persecution as agricultural pests. The birds have also suffered from the introduction of mammals such as rats, cats, pigs and goats, as well as from introduced competitors such as common blackbirds and crimson rosellas. Although the island is politically part of Australia, many of Norfolk Island's native birds show affinities to those of neighbouring New Zealand, such as the Norfolk kaka, Norfolk pigeon, and Norfolk boobook.
Extinctions include that of the endemic Norfolk kaka, Norfolk ground dove and Norfolk pigeon, while of the endemic subspecies the starling, triller, thrush and boobook owl are extinct, although the latter's genes persist in a hybrid population descended from the last female. Other endemic birds are the white-chested white-eye, which may be extinct, the Norfolk parakeet, the Norfolk gerygone, the slender-billed white-eye and endemic subspecies of the Pacific robin and golden whistler. Subfossil bones indicate that a species of Coenocorypha snipe was also found on the island and is now extinct, but the taxonomic relationships of this are unclear and have not been scientifically described yet.
The Norfolk Island Group Nepean Island is also home to breeding seabirds. The providence petrel was hunted to local extinction by the beginning of the 19th century but has shown signs of returning to breed on Phillip Island. Other seabirds breeding there include the white-necked petrel, Kermadec petrel, wedge-tailed shearwater, Australasian gannet, red-tailed tropicbird and grey ternlet. The sooty tern has traditionally been subject to seasonal egg harvesting by Norfolk Islanders.
Norfolk Island, with neighbouring Nepean Island, has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports the entire populations of white-chested and slender-billed white-eyes, Norfolk parakeets and Norfolk gerygones, as well as over 1% of the world populations of wedge-tailed shearwaters and red-tailed tropicbirds. Nearby Phillip Island is treated as a separate IBA.
Norfolk Island also has a botanical garden, which is home to a sizeable variety of plant species. However, the island has only one native mammal, Gould's wattled bat, It is very rare, and may already be extinct on the island.
The Norfolk swallowtail is a species of butterfly that is found on Norfolk Island and the Loyalty Islands.
Cetaceans were historically abundant around the island as commercial hunts on the island were operating until 1956. Today, numbers of larger whales have disappeared, but even today many species such humpback whale, minke whale, sei whale, and dolphins can be observed close to shore, and scientific surveys have been conducted regularly. Southern right whales were once regular migrants to Norfolk, but were severely depleted by historical hunts, and further by recent illegal Soviet and Japanese whaling, resulting in none or very few, if remnants still live, right whales in these regions along with Lord Howe Island.
Whale sharks can be encountered off the island, too.
GannetMasked boobiesWhite ternEmily BayNorfolk Island pinesCaptain Cook LookoutBird Rock Cathedral Rock
Norfolk Island pines
Captain Cook Lookout