The Middle Island Project is widely recognised as an innovative world-first in wildlife conservation. As a conservation tool, it is now known as the ‘Warrnambool Method of Wildlife Conservation,’ and has received a number of awards and attracted much media attention.
There has also been a range of research and publications relating to the Middle Island Project and using guardian dogs to protect the Little Penguins. Click here to download an Academic Journal paper published by Anne and Rob Wallis, ‘Successful protection against canid predation on Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) in Australia using Maremma guardian dogs: ‘The Warrnambool Method.’
In 2014, the filming of the multi-million dollar movie production, ‘Oddball,’ took place. The movie’s storyline is based on the Middle Island Project and stars Shane Jacobson. It has been released in many countries around the world. An Italian company, Erebus Productions, produced a documentary on Middle Island that was viewed by over 1.5 million people, with the Middle Island Project also featured on the ABC’s Catalyst program, Channel 31’s Dog Jobs Australia and many others. In 2010, the Middle Island Project received the 2010 Australian Government Landcare Award.
The success of the Middle Island Project has been made possible thanks to support from many businesses, organisation and volunteers since it began in 2006. It is currently implemented by Warrnambool City Council with support from the Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network, Deakin University and the Warrnambool Field Naturalist Club, and is sponsored by PetStock Warrnambool and The Vet Group.
Middle Island, Stingray Bay and the Merri Marine Sanctuary are features of the Warrnambool Coastline in South West Victoria.
Middle Island itself is located only a few hundred metres off shore across Stingray Bay, within the Merri Marine Sanctuary, an area that contains many different marine habitats. Access to Middle Island has been enhanced by changes in the coastline which has made it easy for predators, including foxes and wild dogs, to cross the waters of Stingray Bay and attack penguins and other seabirds nesting there.
Stingray Bay and the nearby Lady Bay are part of a dynamic coastal environment that has been dramatically changed by the construction of the Warrnambool Breakwater and Harbour complex. Islands that were once well off the mainland have become exposed to visits by foxes and people due to this coastal change.
This map developed by a third-year Deakin University student Silvia San Laureano Quiñones in conjunction with Senior Lecturer Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou uses a historical map from 1870 overlayed with today’s mapping to show the dramatic changes that have taken place.
To learn more about the opportunities to study Marine Science at Deakin University in Warrnambool, visit the Deakin website. Deakin students have been involved in the Middle Island Project since its beginning including through volunteering, placements and learning about the Project as a real-world local example of biological conservation in action.