A group of four main islands of mostly very rugged topography off the Dhofar coast, up to 500 m high, although there are some flat areas. There is a massive limestone cliff on the north-east point of Al Hallaniyah island. Most of the land is bare or supports only a very sparse, low shrub layer; the islands of Jazirat al Qibliyah and Jazirat al Hasikiyah are lightly covered in bird guano. The islands are in the centre of a zone of strong upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water during the south-west monsoon of May–September (especially June–August), when seas are very rough and very strong winds, driving spray and mist prevail. The only habitation is a village at the western end of Al Hallaniyah (c.150 people), with an airstrip. Local people have boats and visit all the islands, weather permitting.
See box for key species. A very important breeding site for seabirds, and the surrounding seas also provide very important feeding grounds for pelagic species visiting from the southern oceans. Other breeding species include Pandion haliaetus (8+ pairs), and Bulweria fallax may breed (see below). Non-breeding seabirds attracted to the upwelling include Puffinus carneipes (common), P. pacificus (infrequent), Oceanites oceanicus (abundant) and Sula leucogaster (rare). The site is not visited very often due to its isolation, remoteness and the difficulty of access during the hazardous south-west monsoon, and knowledge is thus incomplete.
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: large numbers of cetaceans occur offshore, including a probable breeding population of Megaptera novaeangliae (V). Reptiles: a few sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E) nest on the beaches. Flora: three plant species with very restricted ranges (apparently endemic to Oman) occur, as does a rare lichen Simonyiella.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Halaaniyaat Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/07/2019.