Lacepede Islands

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
The IBA consists of the four islands - West Island, Middle Island, East Island and Sandy Island- that comprise the Lacepede Islands, these being located about 120 km north of Broome, 55 km west of Beagle Bay and about 25 km off the coast of northern Western Australia. The Lacepede Islands receive, on average, about 750 mm of rainfall per year. The islands are formed of coarse sand and coral rubble deposited atop a large platform reef. The islands are treeless but support scattered, low vegetation.

Key biodiversity
The Lacepede Islands are also used for breeding by Masked Booby, Australian Pelican, Eastern Reef Egret, Silver Gull, Lesser Crested Tern and Crested Tern. Species that have been recorded in good numbers but do not meet criteria based on available data include Lesser Frigatebird (2700 pairs in 1982, 2000 birds in 1993, 1497 birds in 1998, 1500+ birds in 2001 and 2000 birds in 2006), Grey-tailed Tattler (397 birds in 1998, 900 birds in 1999, 300 birds in 2001 and 300 birds in 2006), Ruddy Turnstone (1050 birds in 1997, 1015 birds in 1998 and 1900 birds in 1999), Great Knot (1025 birds in 1998 and 1055 birds in 1999), Pied Oystercatcher (58 birds [including 28 pairs] in 1998 and 31 birds [including 12 pairs and one chick] in 1999), Sooty Oystercatcher (43 birds [including 19 pairs] in 1998 and 36 birds [including 14 pairs, two juveniles and two chicks] in 1999), Greater Sand Plover (637 birds in 1998), Lesser Crested Tern (500 to 1000 birds in 1989, 327 birds in 1999, 500 birds in 2001 and 300 birds in 2006), Crested Tern (1300 birds in 1999 and 600 birds in 2006), Bridled Tern (3210 birds in 1998, 585 birds in 1999, 3000+ birds in 2001 and 4000 birds in 2006) and Common Noddy (counts of 12,300 birds in 1998, 30,000 birds in 1999, 30,000 birds in 2001 and 20,000 birds in 2006) (Burbidge et al. 1988; Wilson & Hassel 1998; Atlas of Australian Birds Database; Department of Environment and Conservation Seabird Database; C. Hassell unpublished data; Kimberley Birdwatching unpublished data).

Non-bird biodiversity: The Lacepede Islands are the most significant breeding ground in Western Australia for the nationally vulnerable Green Turtle.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Conduct regular monitoring of seabird numbers. Investigate disturbance of seabird colonies by visitors and introduce protection measures, potentially including the exclusion of visitors from critical sites during the breeding period. Monitor for presence of exotic fauna (especially rats), flora and pathogens.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Black Rats, which were introduced to the Lacepede Islands from pearling vessels after the 19th century, were eradicated from the islands in 1986. After the rats were removed, smaller species of tern began to breed on the islands.

Protected areas
Site is within Lacepede Islands Nature Reserve.

Land ownership
Western Australian State Government with responsibility for management with the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lacepede Islands. Downloaded from on 17/08/2019.