The Great Auk was a species of wild fowl that was gradually exterminated by man, the last of them being killed in 1844 on a group of islands off the southwest coast of Iceland.

In the 18th century these birds were common to the Faroes and the Iceland seas, from whence they were gradually driven to settlement after settlement until their final extinction. In 1813 alone vast numbers of them were destroyed by sailors from a Faroes craft. As if nature were conspiring with man to destroy them, one of their haunts was engulfed by the sea, following a submarine eruption.

Even in earlier times, they were ruthlessly hunted for food. In 1536 French and English vessels forced them ashore in droves before killing and then salting them down for provisions.

Although man contributed greatly towards the annihilation of the Great Auk, its habit of laying only one egg did nothing to help maintain the species.

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