Invasive species on islands: A drive to eradicate non-native pests is slowly restoring the rocky Caribbean outpost’s unique species
Sombrero island has been so degraded by human activity that it no longer looks like a hat to approaching sailors. Once a small mound covered in forest, and with its own species of giant tortoise, the 94-acre outpost has been transformed into a barren moonscape by guano mining, invasive mice and hurricanes.
The island, part of Anguilla that marks the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean sea, was even considered at one point as a launchpad for commercial satellites by Texan billionaire Andrew Beal in the late 90s. Now, surges from Atlantic hurricanes – turbocharged by climate change – grow so high that they inundate its 40ft limestone cliffs, washing away seabird eggs and lizards.