The Nuyts Archipelago IBA extends from the Purdie Islands in the west to Eyre Island in the east and Fenelon Island to the south. The IBA does not include Hart Island. All of the islands in the IBA, with the exception of Evans Island (unallocated Crown Land managed by the Commonwealth government as a lighthouse reserve), are included within either Nuyts Archipelago or Isles of St Francis Conservation Parks. The Purdie Islands mostly consist of low rocks with a few seabirds. Lounds Island has low, dense vegetation that provides habitat for the Rock Parrot. St Francis Island is 809 ha in area and rises to a height of 81 m. St Francis, which supports a large population (estimated once at 273,000 pairs) of the Short-tailed Shearwater, is dominated by a mixture of grassland, saltbush and low scrub. Smooth Island, like Lounds Island, has dense low scrub that is probably used by the Rock Parrot. Egg Island has deep soils and 400 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. Dog Island has saltbush shrubland and 1816 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. Nearby Freeling Island has similar vegetation to Dog Island but is smaller and has a much smaller population (112 pairs) of the Short-tailed Shearwater. West Island supports a population of the Cape Barren Goose. Masillon Island has heathy scrubland and saltbush and supports 39,520 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. Fenelon Island has heathland on comparatively shallow soils and supports 13,000 pairs of the White-faced Storm-Petrel. Lacy Island has low heath and shrubland, with 4740 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. Evans Island is dominated by Marsh Saltbush on comparatively deep soils, with 29,472 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. East and West Franklin Islands are dominated by Nitre Bush on deep soils, with 102,080 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. St Peter Island lies only 5 km from the mainland and at 3439 ha is the largest island in the IBA and the second largest island of South Australia. St Peter supports the largest population of the Short-tailed Shearwater in the IBA (334,800 pairs), and is dominated by regenerating pasture (grazing ceased in 1987) with some areas of Mallee woodland. Nearby Goat Island is 303 ha in area and has 94,800 pairs of the Short-tailed Shearwater. Eyre Island is a sand island with counts of up to 251 Pied Oystercatcher. The IBA also includes intertidal habitat around the other islands in the IBA which is used by Pied Oystercatcher.
It is possible that Fairy Terns nest in the IBA: 12 birds with two fledged young were seen on St Peter Island in 2000 (Collins 2000). The Little Penguin (>1000 pairs), Pacific Gull (eight pairs) and Caspian Tern (approximately 500 breeding adults in February 2009) breed within the IBA (Copley 1996; Robinson et al. 1996; J. Cooper in litt. 2009). At least 3000 pairs of Crested Terns were nesting on St Peters Island in 2000 (Collins 2000). The Cape Barren Goose has been recorded on nine islands within the IBA (Robinson & Smyth 1976; Robinson et al. 1996; Department for Environment and Heritage 2006); it has not been reported to breed within the IBA but it is considered capable of doing so, based on the habitat available (Department for Environment and Heritage 2006). The Eastern Reef Egret, Osprey, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Hooded Plover breed within the IBA and are listed as threatened species in South Australia (Department for Environment and Heritage 2006). A total of 3348 shorebirds, mostly unidentified, were counted on St Peter Island in 2000, including 1720 Red-necked Stint (Wilson 2000a,b). The biome-restricted Rock Parrot has been recorded in the archipelago but its numbers are unknown (Atlas of Australian Birds database).
Non-bird biodiversity: The Australian Sea-lion, Southern Brown Bandicoot (Nuyts Archipelago) and Greater Stick-nest Rat occur within the IBA and are listed as threatened taxa in Australia under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Carpet Python occurs within the IBA and is listed as a threatened species in South Australia under the Nature Conservation and Wildlife Act 1972. A colony of the Brush-tailed Bettong has been established on St Peter Island as part of the recovery effort for this species (Robinson et al. 1996; Department for Environment and Heritage 2006).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Monitoring numbers of nesting seabirds, although difficult, should be undertaken. The status of invasive alien plants and mammals should be monitored.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
St Peter Island was held as a pastoral lease until it was purchased by the South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service and proclaimed part of Nuyts Archipelago Conservation Park in 1988 (Department for Environment and Heritage 2006).
The IBA overlaps the Nuyts Archipelago and the Isles of St Francis Conservation Parks.
All islands are owned and managed by the South Australian government except Evans Island which is managed by the Commonwealth government.
Site access / Land-owner requests
Access to the Franklin Islands is prohibited.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nuyts Archipelago. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2022.