Above picture: Janine and Stefan Schoombie in front of Boggel on Prince Edward Island in November 2023; photograph by Elsa van Ginkel

Stefan and Janine Schoombie are a husband-and-wife team who between them have conducted biological research on Marion Island over an eight-year period, working towards their postgraduate degrees that have concentrated on seabirds.  They are also valued supporters of the Mouse-Free Marion (MFM) Project.  Together they have sponsored a generous 11 hectares towards the project – placing them among the top five sponsors of hectares who have overwintered on the island.  Their support has included writing and illustrating accounts for this website’s photo essay series (Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca and Great-winged Petrel Pterodroma macroptera by Stefan and Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli by Janine). Stefan’s hard-hitting video and stills taken at night of a House Mouse Mus musculus feeding on the head of a living Wandering Albatross chick have been instrumental in bringing the problem to many.  Four of their photographs have been turned into MFM posters, one of which is shown below, and they have always been “on call” when the MFM Project team has required a photograph of the island and its seabirds affected by introduced mice Mus musculus.

The Schoombies also supported the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June 2020 with its theme “Eradicating Island Pests”. Here they display their island-made banner at Grey-headed Albatross Ridge on Marion Island; photograph by Stefan Schoombie

Stefan was part of the 70th Overwintering Team (M70) in 2013/14 on Marion Island, returning for two more years with Janine as members of the M72 (2015/16) and M76 (2019/20) teams.  The couple was then on the expedition to Prince Edward Island in November 2023.  Stefan tells MFM News that he and Janine had first met during their undergraduate years at the University of Pretoria.  They write of their experience conducting research at South Africa’s sub-Antarctic Islands: “Having had the privilege to visit mouse-free Prince Edward Island in 2023, we could see first-hand the massive difference that the absence of mice has on the ecology of the island, where birds and insects flourish.  Marion Island is such a special place for us, filled with many fond memories, but we worry about what the future might hold if the mice are not eradicated.  We hope that if we ever get the opportunity to return to Marion Island that the wildlife of the island would then be experiencing a life without invasive mice.”

Not all work on Marion! Stefan and Janine Schoombie made this snowman near the meteorological base in June 2015; photograph by Stefan Schoombie

Stefan is currently a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation at the University of Cape Town.  Over the years 2014-2021 he earned his MSc (Conservation Biology) and PhD degrees through the University’s FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology for his research on seabirds at Marion Island, notably on Sooty and Light-mantled P. palpebrata Albatrosses.

Janine is a doctoral student in the Department Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of Pretoria, studying the effect of changing wind on the flight capabilities of Grey-headed Albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma, based on her island research.  She holds an MSc (Engineering) from the University of the Witwatersrand.

The MFM Project is most grateful for the ongoing support it receives from Janine and Stefan Schoombie, and from many other Marion Island researchers, some of whom will be featured on this website over the next few months.


Selected Publications:

Beal, M., Dias, M.P., Phillips, R.A., Oppel, S., Hazin, C., Pearmain, E.J. … Schoombie, S. et al. 2021.  Global political responsibility for the conservation of albatrosses and large petrels.  Science Advances 7 (10).

Connan, M., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J., Dilley, B. & Ryan, P.G. 2022.  Natural recolonisation of sub-Antarctic Marion Island by Common Diving Petrels Pelecanoides urinatrix.  Ostrich 93: 271-279.

Dilley, B.J., Davies, Stevens, K., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Burrow wars and sinister behaviour among burrow-nesting petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island. Ardea 107: 97-102.

Dilley, B.J., Hedding, D.W., Henry, D.A., Rexer-Huber, K., Parker, G.C., Schoombie, S., Osborne, A. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Clustered or dispersed: testing the effect of sampling strategy to census [sic] burrow-nesting petrels with varied distributions at sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 31: 231-242.

Dilley, B.J., Hedding, D.W., Schoombie, S. & Ryan, P.G. 2020.  A survey of Great-winged Petrels Pterodroma macroptera breeding at sub-Antarctic Marion Island and a revised global population estimate.  Ostrich 91: 101-106.

Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J. & Ryan, P.G. 2015.  “Scalping” of albatross fledglings by introduced mice spreads rapidly at Marion IslandAntarctic Science 28: 73-80.

Dilley, B.J., Schoombie, S., Stevens, K., Davies, D., Perold, V., Osborne, A., Schoombie, J., Brink, C.W., Carpenter-Kling, T. & Ryan, P.G. 2018.  Mouse predation affects breeding success of burrow-nesting petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Antarctic Science 30: 93-104.

Goddard, K.A., Craig, K.J., Schoombie, J. & Le Roux, P.C. 2022.  Investigation of ecologically relevant wind patterns on Marion Island using Computational Fluid Dynamics and measured data.  Ecological Modelling 464: 109827.

Krishnan, K., Garde, B., Bennison, A., Cole, N.C., Cole, E.L., Darby, J., Elliott, K.H., Fell, A., Gómez-Laich, A., De Grissac. S., Jessopp. M., Lempidakis, E., Mizutani. Y., Prudor, A., Quetting, M., Quintana, F., Roboka, H., Roulin, A., Ryan, P.G., Schalcher, K., Schoombie, S. et al. 2022.  The role of wingbeat frequency and amplitude in flight power.  Journal of the Royal Society Interface 19: 20220168.

Momberg, M., Ryan, P.G., Hedding, D.W., Schoombie, J., Goddard, K.A., Craig, K.J. & Le Roux, P.C. 2023.  Factors determining nest‐site selection of surface‐nesting seabirds: A case study.  on the world’s largest pelagic bird, the Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans)Ibis 165: 190-203.

Nourani, E., Safi, K., de Grissac, S., Anderson, D.J., Cole, N.C., Fell, A., Grémillet, D., Lerma, M., McKee, J.L., Pichegru, L., Provost., Rattenborg, N.C., Ryan, P.G., Santos, C.D., Schoombie, S., Tatayah, V., Weimerskirch, H., Wikelski, M. & Shepard, E.L.C. 2022.  Extreme tolerable winds for seabirds are determined by morphology.  Current Biology 33: 1179-1184.

Perold, V., Schoombie, S. & Ryan, P.G. 2020.  Decadal changes in plastic litter regurgitated by albatrosses and giant petrels at sub-Antarctic Marion Island.  Marine Pollution Bulletin 159: 111471.

Reisinger, R.R., Corney, S., Raymond, B., Lombard, A.T., Bester, M.N., Crawford, R.J., Schoombie, S. et. al. 2022.  Habitat model forecasts suggest potential redistribution of marine predators in the southern Indian Ocean.  Diversity and Distributions 28: 142-159.

Reisinger, R.R., Raymond, B., Hindell, M.A., Bester, M.N., Crawford, R.J., Davies, D. … Schoombie, S. et al. 2018. Habitat modelling of tracking data from multiple marine predators identifies important areas in the Southern Indian Ocean.  Diversity and Distributions 24: 535-550.

Risi, M.M., Jones, C.W., Schoombie, S. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Plumage and bill abnormalities in albatross chicks on Marion Island.  Polar Biology 42: 1615-1620.

Schoombie, J., Schoombie, S., Connan, M., Jones, C.W., Risi, M.M., Craig, K.J., Smith, L., Ryan, P.G. & Shepard, E.L.C. 2023.  Impact of wind on collision mortality in grey-headed albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma breeding on Marion Island.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 723: 213-225.

Schoombie, S. 2015.  The Population Status, Breeding Success and Foraging Ecology of Phoebetria Albatrosses on Marion Island.  MSc thesis.  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town.  85 pp.

Schoombie, S. 2021.  Remotely Sensing Motion: the Use of Multiple Biologging Technologies to Detect Fine-Scale, At-Sea Behaviour of Breeding Seabirds in a Variable Southern Ocean Environment.  PhD thesis.  Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town.  149 pp.

Schoombie, S. & Schoombie, J. 2017.  Pseudo-egg “fabrication” by Grey-headed Albatrosses Thalassarche chrysostoma on Marion Island.  Seabird 30: 71-74.

Schoombie, S., Connan, M., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Makhado, A.B. & Ryan, P.G. 2022.  Non-breeding distribution, activity patterns and moulting areas of Sooty Albatrosses (Phoebetria fusca) inferred from geolocators, satellite trackers and biochemical markers.  Polar Biology 45: 32-44.

Schoombie, S., Crawford, R.J.M., Makhado, A.B., Dyer, B.M. & Ryan, P.G. 2016.  Recent population trends of sooty and light-mantled albatrosses breeding on Marion Island.  African Journal of Marine Science 38: 119-127.

Schoombie, S., Dilley, B.J., Davies, D., Glass, T. & Ryan, P.G. 2017.  The distribution of breeding Sooty Albatrosses from the three most important breeding sites: Gough, Tristan and the Prince Edward Islands.  Emu 117: 160-169.

Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J., Brink, C.W., Stevens, K.L., Jones, C.W., Risi, M.M. & Ryan, P.G. 2019.  Automated extraction of bank angles from bird-borne video footage using open-source software.  Journal of Field Ornithology 90: 361-372.

Schoombie, S., Schoombie, J., Oosthuizen, A., Suleman, E., Jones, M.G.W., Pretorius, L., Dilley, B.J. & Ryan, P.G. 2017.  Avian pox in seabirds on Marion Island, southern Indian Ocean.  Antarctic Science 30: 3-12.

Schoombie, S., Wilson R.P. & Ryan, P.G. 2023.  A novel approach to seabird posture estimation: finding roll and yaw angles of dynamic soaring albatrosses using tri-axial magnetometers.  Royal Society Open Science 10: 231363.


John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 5 June 2024




A Northern Giant Petrel is silhouetted on Marion Island; photograph by Stefan Schoombie and poster design by Michelle Risi

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean.  The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.  Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate.  For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.