Coorong This is an IBA in danger! 


Country/territory: Australia

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2, A3, A4i (2009)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 49,697 ha

Protection status:

BirdLife Australia
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2016 very high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here


Site description
This IBA is similar to the Coorong National Park but excludes some dry areas of the national park and includes the coastal Younghusband Peninusla as far south as the southernmost point of the park. The Coorong is a coastal lagoon inland of the coastal dunes of the Younghusband and Sir Richard Peninsulas, it extends for about 140 km south-east from the mouth of the River Murray and is up to 5 km wide and up to 3 m deep. It is separated from the freshwater Lake Alexandrina and the Murray by a series of barrages. The waters are seasonally fresh around the barrages at times of high flow, to brackish at the Murray mouth and hypersaline in the southern lagoon. Mud flats and shallow sandbars in the southern lagoon provide good shorebird habitat. However reduced inflows of fresh water has lead to an increase in salinity and a marked decrease in the system's importance to freshwater and brackish bird species. A total of 234,000 shorebirds was counted in 1982, declining to 38,000 in 2007 (Gosbell and Christie 2007). Salinisation has been caused by lack of fresh water inflow over Murray barrages and consequential restricted tidal inflow; and lack of inflow from natural catchment to south-east (Phillips and Muller 2006). Densities of Hooded Plovers decline southwards from the Murray mouth (Stephens et al. 2006), so the IBA is not extended further south beyond the limit of the Coorong, however there are several recent historic records of Orange-bellied Parrots along the coast to Kingston. The Morella basin has also supported large numbers of birds when wet, including 400 Freckled Duck in 2001 (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Key biodiversity
The Coorong used to meet IBA criteria for Curlew Sandpiper (max 39,882 in 1981) but has steadily declined to 2,171 in 2007 (Gosbell and Christie 2007). Numbers of Australian Pelicans were high (2293-5649 in 2000-2005) and this has been the only permanent nesting sites in Australia, but have also crashed. It also supports regionally important numbers of many other shorebirds and waterbirds including annual counts of 2324-8461 Hoary-headed Grebe (but over 60,000 in 1980s), 59-218 Black-faced Cormorants, 15-402 Cape Barren Goose, 66-441 Musk Duck, 10,811-39,510 Grey Teal, 1300-5638 Crested Tern, 3163-4660 Whiskered Tern between 2000-2007 (Paton 2005, Rogers and Paton 2007). 18,000 unidentified terns were estimated from aerial surveys of north Coorong on 2007 (Kingsford and Porter 2008). The biome-restricted Rock Parrot is uncommon in the Coorong (D. Paton pers. comm. 2008; Atlas of Australian Birds database).


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Coorong. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/09/2018.