|Most recent IBA monitoring assessment|
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A group of 16 small, limestone, desert islands and islets in the Gulf of Salwah, some with cliffs up to 20-30 m high. There is c.20% vegetation cover of saltmarsh bushes, and very extensive seagrass beds in the shallow, clear sea offshore. A highly productive nursery and feeding area for fish. The islands are uninhabited apart from a military garrison.
The islands support the largest known breeding concentration in the world of Phalacrocorax nigrogularis. The main breeding site is on Suwad al Janubiyah island, where 200,000 to 300,000 adults were conservatively estimated to be present in November 1992, along with thousands of nests with eggs. Other breeding species include Sterna caspia (max. 10 pairs), S. anaethetus (max. 100 pairs) and Pandion haliaetus (max. 9 pairs). Wintering species include Podiceps cristatus (min. 50) and Phoenicopterus ruber (750).
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: the second largest population in the world of Dugong dugon (V) occurs here (700+); unspecified Gazella spp. on Hawar island (apparently introduced). Reptiles: the sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E), Eretmochelys imbricata (E), Dermochelys coriacea (E) and Caretta caretta (V) occur, and Chelonia mydas may breed.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hawar Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 12/08/2020.