Biosecurity Insights: Skinks hitchin' a ride
Project Island Song is lucky to have good relationships with local tourist operators, especially because we rely on them to be our eyes and ears for any pest incursions in the Bay. We felt this especially this month when one local operator, Vigilant yacht charters, reported two separate potential biosecurity incidents to Project Island Song.
Given how much effort Project Island Song has put in to raise awareness of the threat posed by the invasive plague skinks, it was both gratifying and alarming to receive two phone calls in one month reporting the discovery of a skink in a passenger's clothing following a visit to Moturua Island. Moturua is pest-free, and has a thriving population of native skinks, but the mainland on the other hand is overrun with invasive plague skinks, and telling the difference between the two is not easy. Being aware of the threat that plague skinks pose to the island ecosystems, the skipper quickly captured the skinks and notified Project Island Song. Luckily, on both occasions following the phone call, the skink was brought to the Russell office and identified by Helen Ough Dealy from DOC as the native shore skink, and was then returned to the island.
Though the story ends well, and attests to the vigilance of the Vigilant crew (haha), it shows just how easy it is to transfer a skink in a shoe, native or not.