Cuverville Island

Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA criteria met: A4ii (2015)
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Area: 81 ha

Site description (baseline)

Cuverville Island is a small island lying in the Errera Channel between Rongé Island and Arctowski Peninsula (Graham Land). A permanent ice-cap extends over much of the island, although on the northern slopes there is a series of broad, rocky beaches below steep cliffs. The rocky areas provide suitable breeding sites for penguins. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) colony present and is defined by the island coastline.

Vegetation consists of a range of moss and lichen species as well as the native Antarctic Hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic Pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) (ATS Visitor Site Guidelines: Cuverville Island).

The nearest scientific station is Gabriel Gonzáles Videla station (CHL), a summer-only facility in Paradise Cove with capacity for up to nine people (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 16/08/2010).

Key biodiversity

Gentoo Penguins breed along the north and northwest shoreline of Cuverville Island, with 6468 pairs recorded in December 2009 (H. Lynch pers. comm. 2010). More recently, 5950 breeding pairs of Gentoo Penguin were reported by the Antarctic Site Inventory in December 2012 (Lynch et al. 2013). The colony is the largest for this species on the Antarctic Peninsula. Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax [atriceps] bransfieldensis) breed on the island with 29 pairs recorded on the northeast coast of the island in 2006 (Lynch et al. 2008). More recently, 49 breeding pairs of Imperial Shag were reported by the Antarctic Site Inventory in February 2013 (R. Naveen and H. Lynch pers. comm. 2014). Other confirmed breeders include Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis albus), South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki), Brown Skua (C. antarctica), Wilson's Storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) and Antarctic tern (Sterna vittata) (Naveen & Lynch 2011).

Non-bird biodiversity: Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) are common at Cuverville Island, while Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) have been observed off-shore (ATS Visitor Site Guidelines: Cuverville Island).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Cuverville Island. Downloaded from on 30/05/2023.