Field expeditions at their best.

It doesn’t get much better than this NPR account of field biology, exploration, rare species and biodiversity conservation.

Short story: (but really you should read the whole NPR article) there’s a spire of rock called Ball’s Pyramid in the Pacific Ocean, west of Australia. Hundreds of years ago, explorers landed, finding massive stick insects up to 12 centimeters long. They called them tree lobsters.

In 1918 a supply ship accidentally released rats (scourge of native fauna the world-over) which gobbled up the stick insects, driving them, we thought, to extinction. But that changed in 2001 when, following up on a rumor, David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile went looking for these “tree lobsters” and found 24 hiding out in a bush in a particularly remote cliff face. Four of these insects were taken back to the mainland where two promptly died, but “Adam” and “Eve” survived and began breeding in the Melbourne Zoo. There are now some 700 individuals of Dryococelus australis (likely more) alive and breeding, giving the species a second lease on life. Now to keep them away from rats!

(please note, all of these photos were taken from the NPR site sourced above)

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