Wildlife documentary to be filmed on Marion Island

Posted on 16 September 2020

Plimsoll Productions has been given the green light by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to film a wildlife documentary series on Marion Island.

Marion Island and Prince Edward Island are situated in the subantarctic Indian Ocean and form part of South Africa. The islands are situated 1,920 km southeast of Cape Town.

The approval will see film makers and scientists collaborate to ensure the continuation of important research projects on Marion Island. There are significant, globally valued long-term science and conservation projects on Marion Island that were interrupted by the COVID19 pandemic and both parties viewed this as an opportunity for collaboration.


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Video by @ottowhitehead | Every spring more than 17,000 greyheaded albatrosses return to @marionisland to rebuild their nests, mate, lay an egg and raise a chick. . In recent years, researchers have been finding albatross chicks with severe wounds. These chicks end up suffering from hypothermia and die within a few days. The culprits? . Mice were accidentally introduced in the 1800s and until recently have only been a threat to the native plants and insects. So why are they attacking seabirds? The theory is that warmer winters are allowing more mice to survive, leading to rapid population growth and food shortages, forcing them to feed on seabird chicks. . There are plans to eradicate mice from the island in 2020 but nearly $3 million needs to be raised for the operation to go ahead. . If you have $90 (or R1000) to donate to this cause please click on the link in our bio @marionisland and sponsor a hectare of this incredible sub-Antarctic wilderness. . Mouse Free Marion is a collaboration between @birdlife_sa @environmentza and @africanornithology

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The agreement with Plimsoll Production includes the charter of a private vessel at their own cost, with an offer to transport 7 members of the M77 over-wintering team to the island, in September 2020.

This would allow for the mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on science activities by enabling filmmakers and scientists to combine efforts to enable the continuation of field science programmes on Marion Island, as well as filming incredible natural behaviour.


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Photo by @pryan_seabirds | The volcanic sub-Antarctic islands of Marion and Prince Edward are teeming with seabirds. It is thanks to these seabirds and their guano that the island’s soil has built up, allowing a host of unique plants, and later insects, to settle and thrive. . The seabirds, insects and plants are all threatened by the accidental introduction of mice, that are inflicting major damage. . Please would you consider sponsoring a hectare of the island to be rid of mice ($90 or R1000). Your donation will help ensure that the eradication goes ahead in 2020 and that the island’s wildlife will live without the scourge of mice. Link in bio. . The Mouse Free Marion project is a collaboration between @birdlife_sa @environmentza and @africanornithology

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Some of these scientific datasets on Marion Island are nearing 40 years of uninterrupted observations. In consultation with the Department of Science and Innovation, there was a thorough analysis of the proposed activities and a permit with very strict conditions has been issued.

To monitor compliance with the permit conditions, a departmental official will accompany the film crew to ensure that they observe the necessary regulations and protocols.

The proposal also went through an extremely rigorous interrogation by the Prince Edward Island Advisory Committee (PEIAC). The PEIAC was established in compliance with the Prince Edward Island Management Plan to ensure that the pristine nature of the Prince Edward Island is maintained and all activities are controlled and in compliance with the Management Plan.

In keeping with the COVID-19 prescripts and regulations, the entire team will adhere to a strict working COVID protocol. For the trip to Marion Island, the charter vessel will be de-contaminated prior to departure.

A full inspection will be conducted on the vessel by DEFF to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. The entire filming team, scientists and vessel crew will all be quarantined and COVID-19 tested in the lead up to departure. All participants on the expedition will undergo full medical examinations prescribed for visitors to the Antarctic or Sub-Antarctic.

The expedition will depart from Cape Town to Marion Island in mid-September.


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Photo by @pryan_seabirds | More than 400,000 years ago, the volcanic peaks of Marion and Prince Edward Island peaked above the ocean’s surface for the first time. These islands, only 21 km apart, rise up dramatically from the seabed, some 4000 m below. . Located in the middle of the Southern Ocean, where land is scarce, these chunks of rock provided attractive nesting sites for seabirds, and as more seabirds visited, more poop accumulated. Together with natural erosion of the lava rock, this created rich soils for windblown spores and seeds to germinate in. Some seeds were even carried by seabirds. . Fast forward 400,000 years and the island is home to hundreds of plant species, endemic insects, fur and elephant seals, and 28 seabird species, including the great wandering albatross. . Unfortunately, this paradise is not what it used to be. Mice were accidentally introduced in the early 1800s and have since eaten through many of the island’s unique insects and, more recently, they have started eating young seabird chicks alive. The chicks usually die within a few days. . To put an end to this horror story, there is an eradication planned for 2020. If successful, Marion Island will become the largest island in the world where non-native mice have been successfully eradicated. BUT to make this happen we need YOUR support. . Please would you consider visiting the website in our bio 👉🏼 @marionisland 👈🏼 to learn more about this project and donate to help us save our seabirds. You can sponsor a hectare to be eradicated for R1000 ($90). . If you’ve already sponsored a hectare, thank you so much! Please could you comment 🐣 below and tag a friend who may be interested in contributing. . Project in collaboration with @birdlife_sa @environmentza @africanornithology

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Image credit: Albert Snyman/ Getaway Gallery


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