Country/territory: Iran, Islamic Republic of
IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3 (1994)
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Area: 160 ha
A small island c.2 km due east of the eastern tip of Lavan island and c.9 km off the mainland coast in the central Persian Gulf. The island is relatively flat (maximum elevation c.6 m), composed of a coral conglomerate covered by dunes and sandy soils. There are no springs or surface water. Rainfall is very low, and the summer temperatures frequently exceed 40°C. Along the southern, western and north-west shores the rock is exposed as cliffs up to c.2 m high. In the south-east corner the rocks form a jumbled heap of boulders just above high water. The remainder of the shoreline is a narrow sand beach which widens at the north-east corner to form a sandy promontory. There are two main areas of sparsely vegetated dunes, stretching across the north and south of the island. The flat area across the centre of the island is densely clad with arid steppic vegetation dominated by Atriplex, in places forming an impenetrable shrub layer up to 60 cm high. Land ownership is public. The island is uninhabited, although a ruined building indicates former occupation.
See box for key species. The island supports the largest known colony of terns in Iran, believed to contain c.300,000 pairs of Sterna repressa and 3,000-5,000 pairs of S. anaethetus in 1972, along with much smaller numbers of S. bergii and S. bengalensis. However, by 1976 and 1977, S. repressa had declined dramatically to only 25,000-50,000 pairs, almost certainly due to massive egg-collecting by the Lavan islanders. There is a colony of Egretta gularis (8-12 pairs) as well as 3-4 pairs of Butorides striatus.
Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: the island is a very important nesting site for sea-turtles, mainly Chelonia mydas (E), with smaller numbers of Eretmochelys imbricata (E) and possibly one other species. A small poisonous snake (Viperidae) is abundant and has given the island its alternative name of Maru (Snake) Island.
Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sheedvar island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/03/2023.