Great Auk

By: Jenny Dinh

The Great Auk (Penguins impennis)

The Great Auk was discovered in the early 1500s; they are found near the rocky islands off the north atlantic coasts up to the south of northern Spain. In 1844 in Scotland, the last Great Auk was killed causing the species to go extinct.

Ecology and Behavior

The Great Auk is an extant species of the family Alcidae, influencing the ecology of the Auk.The Great Auk has a life span of 20-25 years. They didn't have a lot of natural predators; most of the predators are large marine mammals. They have wings that help them traverse rough terrain. The wings also help with propelling them underwater. Holding their breaths underwater is not a problem for them. They can hold it up to 15 minutes. They were preyed on by humans for the food, feathers, museums, and private collection. During winter, they never migrate with the whole nesting colony. Only in small groups or in pairs.

Extinction of the Great Auk

The extinction of the Great Auk was caused by humans and natural cause. Humans were hunting the Great Auk for meat, feathers, and oil. Humans over killed the Great Auk causing it to become endanger. They then continued to hunt until the last was killed in 1844. The natural cause that caused the Great Auk to decrease in population was a volcanic activity that brought a large number of deaths to the Great Auks. Barely any Great Auk survived, the rest of the Great Auk that lived moved to another habitat.

Ecological Effects of the Extinction

When the Great Auk became extinct, the trading system for Auk eggs and skin boomed. The priced for the items of the Great Auks came for a big price.

Possible Actions That May Have Prevented the Extinction

There are ways that could have prevented the Great Auks from extinction. They could have put a law for not allowing humans to hunt the Great Auk. They could have kept some of the Great Auk in Laboratory of facilitate. They could have build a shelter on a island to isolate them from humans.

Initials Population Size

In the late 1600s the Great Auk population drastically decreased due to being hunted for commercial exploitation. They once had a population in the millions. By the 19th century, they were overheated creating a threat to the number of population.


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  • "Marine Birds - Great Auk." Marine Birds - Great Auk. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.