Vapour Col, Deception Island

Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA Criteria met: A4iii (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 132 ha

Protection status:

Site description

Vapour Col lies above the southwestern coast of Deception Island, South Shetland Islands. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the concentration of seabirds present (in particular Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarctica)) and comprises ice-free ground rising steeply from the shore of Deception Island to around 340 m at Vapour Col.

Deception Island is a currently dormant volcanic caldera flooded by the sea, although the last eruption was in 1967-70. Large colonies of wildlife and a diversity of cryptograms, lichens and invertebrates are found on Deception Island. The island is designated as Antarctic Specially Managed Area No. 4 to help manage scientific and tourist use of the island and to protect its exceptional flora and fauna, historical features and scientific values (ASMA No. 4 Management Plan, 2005).

The climate at Deception Island shows average annual air temperatures of 2.9°C at sea level with prevailing winds from the northeast and west. Precipitation is ~500 mm mean annual water equivalent, falling on more than half of summer days (ASMA No. 4 Management Plan, 2005).

The nearest permanent scientific stations to the IBA are Decepciòn (ARG) and Gabriel de Castilla (ESP) located on the coast of Port Foster, Deception Island, around 800 m and 1.4 km northeast of the IBA respectively. These summer-only stations have a combined capacity of 90 people (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 23/08/2010).

Key biodiversity

Approximately 7500 pairs of Chinstrap Penguin were breeding on the coastal ice-free area near Vapour Col in 1987 (Shuford & Spear 1988b). A more recent census in December 2011 recorded 19 177 pairs (Naveen et al. 2013). Information on other bird species at Vapour Col is not available.

Non-bird biodiversity: Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella), Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii), Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus), Southern Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonina) and Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) are frequently observed hauled out on the inner and outer coasts of Deception Island (ASMA No. 4 Management Plan, 2005).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Vapour Col, Deception Island. Downloaded from on 21/10/2020.