Potter Peninsula, King George Island

Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA criteria met: A4ii (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 217 ha

Site description (2015 baseline)

Potter Peninsula, King George Island, lies on the northeastern shore of Maxwell Bay, bordered to the west by Potter Cove and to the east by Stranger Point. Small bays along the shoreline separate rocky headlands. The southern shoreline of Potter Peninsula is designated ASPA No. 132 and the IBA is defined to cover the same area. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) colony present, although prior to recent declines in local numbers of Adélie Penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) also qualified on the basis of the high concentration of seabirds present.

The site is largely ice free and comprises raised pebble beaches, basaltic structures and moraines with relatively diverse vegetation dominated by lichens (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2013).

The nearest permanent scientific station is Jubany (ARG), which operates year-round with a maximum capacity of 100 personnel (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 25/08/2010). Jubany Station is located ~500 m from in the northwestern boundary of the ASPA and IBA. A number of other scientific stations also operate in Maxwell Bay, more information on which can be found under IBA Ardley Island, King George Island.

Key biodiversity

Potter Peninsula supports a diverse range of avifauna, with 14 554 breeding pairs of Adélie Penguin recorded in 1988/89 (Aguirre 1995), most being at Stranger Point (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2013). Aguirre (1995) also recorded 2325 pairs of Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) and 265 pairs of Chinstrap Penguin (P. antarctica) breeding in the summer of 1988-89. More recently, the Management Plan for ASPA No. 132 (2013) reported only 3000 pairs of Adélie Penguin, although an increase in Gentoo Penguins to ~3800 pairs.

South Polar Skuas breed at the site, with 63 breeding pairs in 2002 (Ritz et al. 2006). In 1998, 46 pairs of Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus) were recorded breeding on Potter Peninsula (Hahn et al. 1998), while 87 pairs were recorded in 2007 (ACAP 2010b). In addition, approximately 200 breeding pairs of Storm-petrel (mainly Oceanites oceanicus) are estimated in the area (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2013). Other confirmed breeders include Cape Petrel (Daption capense), Black-bellied Storm-petrel (Fregetta tropica), Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax [atriceps] bransfieldensis), Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis albus), Brown Skua (Catharacta antarctica), hybrid skuas (Catharacta sp.), Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) and Antarctic Tern (Sterna vittata) (Hahn et al. 1998).

Non-bird biodiversity: Large numbers of Southern Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonina) haul out annually to breed on Potter Peninsula (ASPA No. 132 Management Plan, 2013). A. Carlini (pers. comm. 2010) recorded 272 female Southern Elephant Seals in the 2006 season. Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) and occasionally Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) and Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) haul out along beaches at this site.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Potter Peninsula, King George Island. Downloaded from on 04/12/2023.