Four islands make up the chain: Nightingale, Tristan, Gough, and Inaccessible, with the latter two collectively recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The marine ecosystem surrounding the islands remains healthy and vitally important for albatrosses, penguins, and seals. The remote location of this United Kingdom Overseas Territory—midway between Argentina and South Africa—means that many of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.
Tristan da Cunha serves as the breeding ground for 85 percent of the world’s endangered northern rockhopper penguins. The species, known locally as “Pinnamin,” lives alongside subantarctic fur seals and a single breeding colony of southern elephant seals. Seal populations are slowly recovering from the unsustainable hunting practices of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Two endangered birds—the sooty albatross (“Peeeoo”) and the Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross (“Molly”)—breed only in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, critically endangered Tristan (“Gony”) albatrosses breed almost exclusively on Gough, as do endangered Atlantic petrels. Spectacled petrels, with a recorded wingspan of up to 118 centimetres (47 inches), are also considered vulnerable and reproduce only on Inaccessible. The island also provides a home for an endemic species of land bird, the Inaccessible rail, which is the smallest flightless bird in the world and considered vulnerable.
Within the U.K., The Pew Trusts operates as part of the Great British Oceans (GBO) coalition, a group of nongovernmental organisations that advocate for large, highly protected marine protected areas in the nation’s Overseas Territories. As part of GBO, the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project supports the Government of Tristan da Cunha’s commitment to adopt a marine protection strategy by 2020, as well as the designation of its entire EEZ as a highly protected marine protected regime.