Gibbs Island

Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA criteria met: A1, A4ii, A4iii (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 325 ha

Site description (2015 baseline)

Gibbs Island is a small island (~22 km2) located ~25 km to the southwest of Elephant Island, bordered to the north by the Loper Channel and to the south by Bransfield Strait. A narrow strip of land known as The Spit joins Furse Peninsula in the east to the main part of Gibbs Island in the west. The IBA comprises Furse Peninsula at the eastern extremity of Gibbs Island, The Spit and a small ice-free area on Gibbs Island west of The Spit. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica), Southern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides) and Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus), and the high concentration of seabirds present.

A range of lichens, mosses, algae and liverworts have been recorded on Gibbs Island. On the south coast of the island, ~800 m west of The Spit, moss communities grow at altitudes of ~100 m (Allison & Smith 1973). Mosses, lichens and algae are also found at the eastern extremity of Gibbs Island growing at elevations of 250 – 300 m. (Lindsay 1969, in Allison & Smith 1973).

No long-term meteorological records exist for Gibbs Island. However, meteorological observations made in the Elephant Island group between 10 Dec 1970 and 26 March 1971 show the mean daily temperature was 1.4° C with minimum and maximum temperatures of below –5° C and 15° C respectively (Allison & Smith 1973). Cloud cover and precipitation were frequent, with over 415 mm falling as snow or rain over the 107 days, and a mean wind speed for the survey period of 7.2 ms-1.

Key biodiversity

Approximately 1672 pairs of Macaroni Penguin breed within the IBA, split between a large colony located at southern Furse Peninsula and a small colony on the east side of The Spit (Croxall & Kirkwood 1979). Colonies of Chinstrap Penguin breed in several ice-free areas west of The Spit, on The Spit and on southern Furse Peninsula, with 11 200, 6160 and 13 000 pairs respectively in 1977 (Croxall & Kirkwood 1979). A large number of Southern Fulmar also breed in this area, on Furse Peninsula and to the west of The Spit, constituting around 18 680 pairs in 1977 (Furse 1978). Around 7400 pairs of Cape Petrel ( Daption capense ) were reported on Gibbs Island in 1977 (Furse 1978).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Gibbs Island. Downloaded from on 05/10/2023.