Corner Inlet

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The Corner Inlet Ramsar site is the most southerly marine embayment and tidal mudflat system of mainland Australia. The site is of international zoological significance as habitat for migratory wading birds. The barrier islands are of national botanical significance due to their biogeographic importance, and national geomorphological significance as an example of barrier island formation. Corner Inlet is bounded to the west and north by the South Gippsland coastline, in the south-east by a series of barrier islands and sandy spits lying end to end and separated by narrow entrances, and to the south by the hills of Wilsons Promontory. The chain of barrier islands are a westward extension of the Ninety Mile Beach and are of complex form and origin. They provide an outstanding example of the processes involved in barrier island formation including the development of multiple beach ridges, lagoons and swamps, tidal creeks, tidal deltas, and tidal washovers. The main channels of the Inlet are continuous with the Franklin, Albert and Tarra Rivers which drain the catchment area of some 2300 km2 into the embayment and out into Bass Strait through the Main, Port Albert, Kate Kearney, Shoal and McLoughlins Beach Entrances (Ramsar Site Information Sheet 2006). Close to 90% of the site is designated marine and coastal park with Nooramunga Marine & Coastal Park to the east and Corner Inlet Marine & Coastal Park to the west. The Corner Inlet Marine National Park (covering part of the Bennison Channel) resides within the larger Corner Inlet designated area.

Key biodiversity
The site also supports large numbers of the following species but they do not 'regularly' exceed the thresholds: Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Double-banded Plover Grey Plover (AWSG database), Little Pied Cormorant, Black-faced Cormorant and White-faced Heron (P. Dann pers. comm 2007). Every year typically 100 non-breeding Little Tern from the northern hemisphere are present from November to March. Little Tern do not ordinarily breed but occasionally a pair does breed. Up to 100 Common Terns also occur from November to March. Satellite tracking has identified the inlet is an important feeding area for the Little Penguin colony at Rabbit Island. The site is important also for Black Swan; however count data is only available for the western section of the IBA, which supports 4000-7000 swans. Several thousand pairs of Short-tailed Shearwater used to nest on small granitic islands (Norman 1977). The near threatened Flame Robin and biome-restricted Striated Fieldwren are uncommon at Corner Inlet (Atlas of Australian Birds database).

Non-bird biodiversity: Three mammal species listed as threatened in Victoria have been recorded at Corner Inlet: Spot-tailed Quoll (vulnerable), New Holland Mouse (endangered) and Swamp Antechinus (rare).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Fund and implement the Ramsar Management Plan including a fox control program on selected barrier islands to protect nesting shore birds and spraying of feral weeds.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
A comprehensive Ramsar Management Plan (May 2002) has been completed. Significant aspects of the plan are:- (1) a fox control program on selected barrier islands to protect nesting shore birds; (2) spraying of feral weeds; (3) monitoring of sewerage and storm water discharge; (4) an ongoing nesting shorebirds monitoring program; (5) summer and winter counts since 1981 for waders and other waterbirds.

Protected areas
The IBA overlaps with six protected areas.

Land ownership
Victorian State Government - 58,670 hectares of parks and reserves including Corner Inlet and Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Parks (within the Corner Inlet Marine & Coastal Park is the Marine National Park of 1550 hectares); 6,473 hectares - other public land; 1,824 hectares - freehold land (Dog, Little Dog, Bullock, Hunter & Sunday Islands). The public lands are managed as follows:- the parks & reserves by Parks Victoria, foreshores at Port Welshpool & Port Albert by Committees of Management, port facilities by Gippsland Ports and the shipping channels by NRE.

Site access / Land-owner requests
The various parks are readily accessed but permission should be sought to access private holdings.

Bird data was supplied by the AWSG Victorian Branch and Hooded Plover information obtained from 'Managing the Hooded Plover in Victoria' by M. Weston. Waterfowl data for western section of Corner Inlet was provided by P. Dann. The Ramsar Strategic Management Plan produced by Parks Victoria and the Department of Natural Resources & Environment was a valuable source of information. The following individuals contributed to the completion of the nomination:- Andrew Corrick and Ian Norman, Department of Conservation and Environment, Arthur Rylah Institute, Peter Dann, Research Biologist, Phillip Island Penguin Reserve and Clive Minton - AWSG.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Corner Inlet. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023.