Lakes Alexandrina and Albert

Year of compilation: 2008

Site description
This IBA comprises Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, which form a natural wetland system at the mouth of the River Murray and are connected with the Coorong IBA. The IBA includes the whole of Lake Alexandrina (76,000 ha) and Lake Albert (16,800 ha), even though the bird conservation values are concentrated along the shores, and the wetlands associated with Lake Alexandrina of Tolderol, Mosquito Points, lower reaches of Currency Creek and Finniss River, the six main islands (Mundoo, Mud, Long, Hindmarsh, Tauwitchere, Salt Lagoon Island) and three areas heavily used by Cape Barren Geese: Wyngate, Campbell Park and Point Sturt. The lagoons receive water from four main sources - by exchange with the sea via the Murray Mouth, by freshwater inflow from the River Murray, via local rainfall, run-off and groundwater inputs, and by rare inflows through Salt Creek. However, the hydrology has been heavily modified by a barrage across the mouth of the Murray to keep them fresh and to maintain water levels, and by significantly reduced freshwater input from the Murray, so that the lakes are much less variable in water levels and support fewer birds than previously. Water is also abstracted for local irrigation and to supply Adelaide. Currency Creek and the Finniss River form sheltered reedy freshwater estuaries on Lake Alexandrina. Tolderol and Mosquito Points and the Narrows also support extensive sheltered reed beds. The Bremer River and Angas River flow seasonally and have ephemeral wetlands near their mouths on Lake Alexandrina. Around the lakes are salt marshes and saline lagoons, many of which are occasionally inundated by floods. Lake Alexandrina is mainly Crown Lands except for the Tolderol, Mud Islands and Currency Creek Game Reserves, and Lake Albert is mainly Crown Lands, but both are surrounded by private land. The lakes are heavily used for recreation, especially boating and fishing. The lakes are part of the The Coorong, and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert Wetland Ramsar site.

Key biodiversity
Three species have exceeded 1% thresholds on one recent occasion: 350 Freckled Duck in 2006, 144 Pied Oystercatcher in 2005 and 1440 Red-necked Avocet in 2004 (Atlas of Australian Birds database) but further surveys are needed to determine if numbers regularly exceed these thresholds. Historical high counts of shorebirds include 1542 Red-necked Avocet at Waltowa Swamp in 1982 and 1410 Red-necked Stint at Tolderol in 1984 (AWSG database). In November 2007, Lake Albert supported about 30,000 waterbirds and Lake Alexandrina supported about 67,000 waterbirds, including an estimated 2626 (1792 on Lake Alexandrina + 834 on Lake Albert) Pacific Black Duck, 5768 Black Swan (5325+443), 1901 Eurasian Coot (1858+43), 718 Caspian Tern (569+148), 10,750 Grey Teal (6618+4133), 2662 Whiskered Tern (1823+839) and another 2970 unidentified terns, 3777 Pied Cormorant (1055+2722), 8611 Australian Pelican (6289+2322), 3092 (760+2332) Straw-necked Ibis and 655 (547+108) Black-winged Stilt (Kingsford & Porter 2008). The near threatened Flame Robin and Diamond Firetail and the biome-restricted Rock Parrot are rarely recorded in the IBA (Atlas of Australian Birds database) as is the federally-listed vulnerable Australian Painted Snipe (Eckert 2000).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Adequate freshwater inflow from the Murray-Darling system is urgently needed to maintain the freshwater values of the lakes. Management of fringing wetlands must consider the needs of key bird species, notably Orange-bellied Parrots and Australasian Bitterns.

Protected areas
Several - see separate section.

Land ownership
Crown Land except for game reserves (Mud Islands: 121 ha; southern part of Tolderol Point peninsula: 449 ha; and a series of small islands at the mouth of Currency Creek: 130 ha), Salt Lagoon Islands Conservation Park (66 ha), several Aboriginal Reserves, Mundoo Pastoral company and other private land.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lakes Alexandrina and Albert. Downloaded from on 08/08/2020.