Gough Island

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
The site comprises the whole of Gough Island as well as the offshore islets and stacks, as described in the ‘General introduction’.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. The site has been described as ‘a strong contender for the title of most important seabird colony in the world’. As many as 54 bird taxa are recorded, of which 20 are non-breeding seabirds and two are endemic landbirds. The seabirds include Eudyptes chrysocome moseleyi (about 48% of world population), Diomedea e. dabbenena, D. chlororhynchos, Phoebetria fusca, Macronectes giganteus, Pterodroma brevirostris, P. macroptera, P. mollis, P. incerta, Pachyptila vittata, Procellaria cinerea, Puffinus gravis, P. assimilis, Garrodia nereis, Pelagodroma marina, Fregetta grallaria, Pelecanoides urinatrix (>20,000 pairs), Catharacta antarctica, Sterna vittata and Anous stolidus. The terrestrial species are Gallinula comeri and Rowettia goughensis (1,000 pairs, 1993 estimate).Non-breeding visitors include Diomedea melanophris, Macronectes halli, Fulmarus glacialoides, Daption capense, Pachyptila desolata, Procellaria a. aequinoctialis, Puffinus griseus, Oceanites oceanicus, Fregetta tropica, Bubulcus ibis and Larus dominicanus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Arctocephalus tropicalis (200,000 individuals and increasing) and Mirounga leonina (about 100 individuals) are the only two native breeding mammals. Of 100 free-living species of terrestrial invertebrates recorded, at least eight are endemic, while 14 are native to the Dependency as a whole. Only eight species of freshwater invertebrates are known.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
In 1976 Gough Island was declared a Wildlife Reserve and in 1997 it was renamed a Nature Reserve and its boundaries were extended to 12 nautical miles. It was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1995. Principal threats include unlicensed fishing within the reserve, the illegal use of drift-nets, pollution from the meteorological station (now minimal), pollutants from vessels passing through territorial waters, the introduction of alien organisms (especially mammalian predators, the main threat), fires and disturbance.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gough Island. Downloaded from on 21/01/2022.