This little sanctuary, Wedged into the Northern Agricultural Region, is home to many.
Teeming with biodiversity, Wedge Island is an important area for the conservation of flora and fauna – providing a home for a diverse array of breeding seabirds, migratory shorebirds, and resident mammals and reptiles.
The island is an A Class Nature Reserve within the Jurien Bay Marine Park, managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW).
It has been mostly disconnected from the mainland throughout the last decade, with a stretch of deep water running between the island and mainland coastline, therefore typically only making the island accessible by boat or kayak.
This natural barrier has prevented feral predators such as foxes and cats from accessing the island, and has allowed island vegetation to rehabilitate naturally over time, relatively free from human disturbance.
In recent months however, longshore drift and currents have seen the rapid accumulation of sand between the island and mainland, creating a sandbar between the two. This natural cycle has improved access for people and predators and presented a significant challenge for DPaW to manage the potential negative impacts to the island’s flora and fauna.
Due to the high conservation status of the island, and the significant safety risk the island poses to visitors, DPaW, in collaboration with representatives of the Kwelena Mambakort Aboriginal Corporation, have implemented a temporary closure which prohibits access to the island for a period until 31 March 2016.
To better inform visitors of the Department’s concerns, signs and fencing will be erected this week by DPaW rangers working in collaboration with representatives of the Kwelena Mambakort Aboriginal Corporation.
Seven species of bird (with more than 300 pairs recently counted) are known to use the island for nesting and roosting, with almost all of the surface terrain occupied.
Spring and summer are important breeding times for most of the island’s inhabitants. Nests and burrows are extremely fragile and vulnerable to disturbance by human activity. Nesting seabirds are strongly attached to nest sites and if disturbed, even infrequently, there is a high risk of them abandoning the site.
Reptile species include the Marbled gecko (Christinus marmoratus), Western limestone skink (Ctenotus australis) and West-coast laterite skink (Ctenotus fallens). Mammal species include the Bush rat (Rattus fuscipes) and the Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) – which is a common visitor using the island beaches as a haul-out between foraging trips.