Norfolk's Plants and Animals
The vast distances between Norfolk Island and any other piece of land have allowed it to develop plants and birds found nowhere else.
The island has some 174 species of native plant, of which 50 are endemic. Many of the endemic plants are rare, but the famous Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is still abundant. It can reach a height of over 150 feet, and is used as a decorative tree all over the world. Other endemic species include the Norfolk Island palm, many ferns, a native passionfruit, Devil's Guts and the Norfolk Island hibiscus (also called "white oak").
Introduced plants are now common on the island. Grasses, citrus, banana and guava were introduced for pasture and culinary purposes; while other introductions such as African olive, lantana and Hawaiian holly have become pests and weeds.
Norfolk's fauna is also a mix of native and introduced species. The island has no mammals or amphibians, and the only reptiles (a skink and a gecko) are seen exclusively on the small rocks and islands surrounding Norfolk itself. Birds are the main vertebrate species on the island, 43 species of which are native. Common native birds include the golden whistler and grey fantail. The green parrot is in danger of extinction, while the boobook owls were reduced by 1987 to a single female.
Migratory birds find Norfolk a welcome terminus after their travels. They include the masked gannet, sooty tern, fairy tern and red-tailed tropic bird, as well as the white-faced heron. One bird you will no doubt hear when you visit Norfolk Island is the wedge-tailed shearwater, or "Ghost Bird" (Puffinus pacificus), whose ghost-like, moaning calls echo around the island at night.
Introduced birds, like the house sparrow, European starling, eastern rosella and green finch are commonly seen around the island's settled areas.
Norfolk's waters teem with life. The coral formations around the island are home to many tropical fish including groper, trumpeter, garfish, parrot fish, butterfish, clownfish and lionfish. Moray eels, octopus, starfish and many other invertebrate species also inhabit the reefs.
Norfolk is also home to many species of insects. Beetles, moths, ants, spiders bees and butterflies abound; many of which are unclassified and unstudied. Interestingly, there are no fatal creatures on land: no poisonous spiders, no snakes.