Babel Island Group

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The Babel Island Group IBA consists of Babel, Cat and Storehouse islands, east of Flinders Island in Bass Strait. These are granite islands with sandy soil, dominated by the grass Poa poeformis. Babel Island is owned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and is much larger (441 ha) than Cat and Storehouse Islands, both of which are Conservation Areas. The central hill at Babel Island slopes gently to the shoreline, where there are two large beaches, a sandy spit at the southwest side, and several buildings at West Beach, the Gulch, South East Beach and along the east coast. Cat Island (39 ha) is flat, with steep cliffs on the east side; and Storehouse Island (20 ha) has a gently undulating landscape.

Key biodiversity
1585 pairs of Crested Tern and 29 pairs of Sooty Oystercatcher. Peregrine Falcon breeds at Babel Island. Cat Island has a pair of Hooded Plover and is important as a site for the potential re-colonisation of Australasian Gannet, though nesting habitat has not fully recovered from a very destructive fire in 1984, when the impressive 5000-10000 birds found here in 1908, and 1000 in 1938, had already declined to a very small colony. Deployment of decoys since 1988 has not been successful but manual re-colonisation of reared chicks is being considered.

Non-bird biodiversity: Bennett's Wallaby, Tasmanian Pademelon, Water Rat, Metallic Skink, Three-lined Skink, White's Skink, Blue-tongued Lizard and Tiger Snake are some of the other animals recorded, mostly at Babel Island. Vegetation is dominated by Poa poiformis, Rhagodia candolleana, Tetragonia implexicoma, Atriplex cinerea and areas of scrub (especially myrtaceous species).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Monitor rate and impact of harvesting of Short-tailed Shearwater on Babel Island. Upgrade status of Cat Island (which is regularly visited by helicopters and boats) and Storehouse Island to Nature Reserve status. Consider eradication of cats and mice from Babel.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Further efforts should be made to maintain the decoy system at Cat Island and deter the White-bellied Sea-Eagles that are blamed for the lack of successful re-colonisation of Australasian Gannet. Vegetation in the vicinity of the gannetry should be appropriately managed as an incentive for further nesting.

Protected areas
Cat Island and Storehouse Island are Conservation Areas.

Land ownership
Cat Island and Storehouse Island are Conservation Areas; Babel Island is owned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Babel Island Group. Downloaded from on 29/07/2021.