Snow Hill Island lies 5 km to the southeast of James Ross Island and less than 2 km to the southwest of Seymour Island, off the eastern coast of Trinity Peninsula. Snow Hill Island is nearly entirely covered by snow and ice. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) colony present at the southwest extremity of the island and comprises 263 ha of sea ice adjacent to the coast.
The nearest permanent scientific station is Marambio (ARG), which operates year-round ~53 km to the northeast on Seymour Island and has capacity for ~150 people (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 19/08/2010).
A visual ground count made in November 2004 recorded ~3885 downy Emperor Penguin chicks on fast ice ~400 m from ice cliffs on the southern coast of Snow Hill Island (Todd et al. 2004). While a recent count based on analysis of a satellite image acquired 26 Oct 2009 (Fretwell et al. 2012) indicated 2164 penguins present, which would not qualify under the IBA population criteria, in view of the historical size of the colony and uncertainty over current numbers, the IBA has been retained.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Snow Hill Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/02/2019.