IBA Criteria met: A4i, A4ii, A4iii (2012)
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Area: 218 ha
NatureFiji - MareqetiViti
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The Ringgold Isles are an archipelago in Fiji, forming an outlier group to Vanua Levu. The Budd, Nukusemanu, and Heemskercq reefs form part of the group. The small sand cay islands such as Vetauua, Nukubasaga, Nukupureti, and Nukusemanu are uninhabited, while the larger Naqelelevu has a small village with extant residents. The Qelelevu group (Tauraria and Tainibeka) are mainly low, jaggered limestone islets. In 1984, Fergus Clunie extensively surveyed the Ringgold group and documented the significant population of breeding seabird colonies. Nukubasaga and Nukupureti, which sometimes feature as Nukubalati on most charts, are two small islands within the one discrete reef at the east of Adolphus reef and thirteen kilometres east of the Nukusemanu reef, northern point of the great Heemskercq shoals. Nukubasaga is the larger of the two islets and lies at approximately twenty-five kilometres southwest of Qelelevu. Nukupureti is located south-west of Nukubasaga. A shallow lagoon of about 1.6 kilometres divides the two islets. Nukubasaga is vegetated with bush and coconut whilst Nukupureti supports a small stand of bush and an unusual “park” vegetation community of short grass studded with small trees on the shore facing Nukubasaga (Jenkins 1986). The main threat to seabirds at these sites was removed through the eradication of invasive mammals in 2008. However, regular visits by fishers from local communities exploiting marine resources provide a potential path for reinvasion of invasive mammals and need careful biosecurity measures in place. Occasional monitoring visits take place with the Ringgold Islands Site Support Group.
The Ringgold Islands were first visited by the Whitney South Seas Expedition in 1924. Beck noted breeding Red-footed Boobies, Lesser Frigatebird and Black Noddies (Jenkins 1986). Clunie visited in 1984 and 1985. He found that two islands in the Ringgolds constituted one of the most important breeding grounds for Lesser Frigatebird in Fiji. In 1984 the entire weathered or east coast of Nukubasaga was one long extended Frigatebird colony, with nests on the ground and in low, wind-cropped scrub at the beach crest, with nesting in all stages except fully fledged chicks. In 1984, Clunie observed nests on the bare ground or in short grass, other nests were scattered or grouped in clusters in bushes and trees throughout these islands. In 1985, the situation was different: the ground nesting “parks” were deserted but the density of tree nests remained the same. Previous observations ( Jenkins 1986) revealed that Red-footed Booby also nests on these islands with 450 breeding pairs recorded on one island only in 1984.
Non-bird biodiversity: The area supports globally and regionally significant populations of marine turtles, humpback whales, seabirds and semi-nomadic reef fish, and may hold concentrations of cold-water corals. The site is the main foraging areas for Fiji‘s most significant nesting sites for hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate Critically Endangered) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas, Endangered). Taveuni, the third-largest island in Fiji is located next to a major shipping passage and some of the most significant soft coral walls in the country.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ringgold Islands. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2019.