Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA criteria met: A4ii, A4iii (2015)
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Area: 751 ha

Site description (2015 baseline)

Svarthamaren is a largely ice free mountain ridge lying to the east of the Vestreskorve Glacier, Mühlig-Hofmann Mountains, Dronning Maud Land. The ridge rises from the surrounding glacier at ~1600 m to an elevation of ~2100 m, and together with its associated moraines occupies an area of ~7.5 km2 and extending ~6 km long and up to 1.5 km wide. Large screes extending up to 240 vertical metres dominate the northeastern slopes of Svarthamaren, and these areas form the primary local nesting habitat for the Antarctic Petrel (Thalassoica antarctica).

The area was specially protected in 1987 to avoid disturbance to breeding bird populations and associated research work (ASPA No. 142 Management Plan 2014). The IBA qualifies on the basis of the Antarctic Petrel and South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) colonies present and the area coincides with the boundary of ASPA No. 142.

The nearest station is Tor (NOR), a summer-only research facility located in the north outside the ASPA boundary. The nearest permanent research station is Troll (NOR) ~92 km to the west in the Gjelsvik Mountains.

Key biodiversity

The Antarctic Petrel colony at Svarthamaren is the largest known in Antarctica, with approximately 100 000 – 200 000 breeding pairs occupying mainly the northeastern slopes of the ridge, although breeding also occurs at other sites throughout the area. At least 1000 pairs of Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea) and ~100 pairs of South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) also breed at Svarthamaren (ASPA No. 142 Management Plan 2014; S. Descamps pers. comm. 2015). The number of Snow Petrels may be considerably more, as accurate counts are difficult (S. Descamps pers. comm. 2015). For example, Croxall et al. (1995) reported ~10 000 breeding pairs of Snow Petrel at Svarthamaren based on several sources. The South Polar Skuas tend to nest at the foot of the northeastern slopes occupied by Antarctic Petrels (Mehlum et al. 1988).

Non-bird biodiversity: None known.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Svarthamaren. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.