Moe Island

Year of compilation: 2015

Site description

Moe Island is a small, low-lying island with an irregular coastline located ~300 m southwest of Signy Island. Moe Island is designated as ASPA No. 109. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the concentration of seabirds present (in particular Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica)) and comprises all of Moe Island (excluding offshore rocks) and coincides with the boundary of ASPA No. 109.

Moe Island has a rugged and steep coastline, and rises to an elevation of 226 m at Snipe Peak. The island is dominated by metamorphic schists and a large proportion of the island is covered by glacial drift and scree. Immature soil deposits are intermixed with gravel and rocks. Some of the largest moss banks of their type in Antarctica are on Moe Island.

The nearest research station is Signy (GBR), located ~5 km to the northeast. See IBA Signy Island for more information.

Key biodiversity

Approximately 10 964 pairs of Chinstrap Penguin were recorded breeding in 1978/79 (Croxall, Rootes & Price 1981). However, the Chinstrap population may have since decreased, with ~1100 pairs recorded in February 1994 and ~100 pairs in January 2006 (ASPA No. 109 Management Plan, 2007). About 2000 pairs of Cape Petrel (Daption capense) were recorded breeding in 14 colonies on the island in 1966 and a large number of Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata) also nest at the site (ASPA No. 109 Management Plan, 2007). Snow Petrels (Pagodroma nivea) were recorded breeding on Moe Island in 1957/58 when the colony comprised 34 breeding pairs (Croxall et al. 1995), and were confirmed breeding during a survey in 2005/06 (R. Fijn pers. comm. 2015).

Non-bird biodiversity: Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus), Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) are regularly observed hauled out in bays along the western shore of Moe Island (ASPA No. 109 Management Plan, 2007).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity

Moe Island was designated as ASPA No. 109 to protect its natural environment, which is representative of a maritime Antarctic ecosystem (ASPA No. 109 Management Plan, 2007). Access to Moe Island is prohibited except for essential management or compelling scientific purposes, and visitor numbers and human impacts are low. An increase in the local Antarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus gazella) population has substantially altered terrestrial environments in some areas, which may also impact on bird breeding habitats. Damage to moss banks by seals has been observed on the most northerly sites on Moe Island, although the steep topography offers protection to some sensitive areas.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Moe Island. Downloaded from on 18/11/2018.