AQ046
West Admiralty Bay, King George Island


Country/territory: Antarctica

IBA Criteria met: A4ii, A4iii (2015)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 1,804 ha

Protection status:


Site description

Admiralty Bay lies on the southern coast of King George Island. The IBA qualifies on the basis of the numbers of Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) and the concentration of seabirds present (in particular penguins). The IBA is defined by the boundary of ASPA No. 128, which extends from Telefon Point in the southwest to a point ~0.5 km south of Arctowski Station (POL).

The western shore of Admiralty Bay rises to a maximum elevation of around 350 m and is shaped by glacial and coastal marine processes. Approximately 80% of the IBA is permanently covered by snow and ice (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014). Ice-free areas are located on raised beaches, moraines, rocky headlands, islets and spurs. Several shallow beaches are present on the northeastern coast.

ASPA No. 128 was designated to protect the diverse avian and mammalian fauna and locally rich vegetation, and provides a representative example of a maritime Antarctic ecosystem (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014). The site also lies within ASMA No. 1 Admiralty Bay.

Vegetation is typical of the maritime Antarctic, with lichens, mosses and the flowering plants Antarctic Hairgrass (Deschampsia Antarctica) and Antartic Pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014).

The nearest permanent year-round scientific station is Arctowski (POL), located outside the IBA near Point Thomas. Arctowski has a capacity for ~40 people in summer and 12 in winter (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 25/08/2010). A small semi-permanent summer-only field camp (‘Copacabana' (USA)) is located near the shore of Admiralty Bay within the IBA and the ASPA ~3 km southeast of Arctowski station.

Key biodiversity

Twelve bird species breed at the site, detailed information on which may be found in the ASPA No. 128 Management Plan (2014). In summary, approximately 15 151 pairs of Adélie Penguin ( Pygoscelis adeliae ), 2287 pairs of Gentoo Penguin and 2545 pairs of Chinstrap Penguin ( P. antarctica ) were recorded in 1994/95 (Ciaputa & Sierakowski 1999). Four-year averages over 2009-12 showed 7032 pairs of Adélie, 4736 pairs of Gentoo, and 950 pairs of Chinstrap Penguin (Ciaputa & Sierakowski 1999; US AMLR program unpublished data). Also breeding at the site are Southern Giant Petrel ( Macronectes giganteus ), Cape Petrel ( Daption capense ), Snowy Sheathbill ( Chionis albus ), skua ( Catharacta maccormicki and C. antarctica ), Kelp Gull ( Larus dominicanus ), Antarctic Tern ( Sterna vittata ), Wilson's Storm-petrel ( Oceanites oceanicus ) and Black-bellied Storm-petrel ( Fregetta tropica ) (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014).

Four South American bird species have also been recorded as temporary visitors: Black-necked Swan ( Cygnus melanocoryphus ), South Georgia Pintail ( Anas georgica ), White-rumped Sandpiper ( Calidris fuscicollis ) and Wilson's Phalarope ( Pharalopus tricolor ) (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014).

Other threatened / endemic wildlife

Southern Elephant Seals ( Mirounga leonina ), Antarctic Fur Seals ( Arctocephalus gazella ) and Weddell Seals ( Leptonychotes weddellii ) regularly haul out at the site, and Southern Elephant and Weddell seals have been observed breeding in the area (ASPA No.128 Management Plan, 2014). Over winter, Leopard Seals ( Hydrurga leptonyx ) and Crabeater Seals ( Lobodon carcinophagus ) are regularly observed on nearby ice floes (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014).

Non-bird biodiversity: Southern Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonina), Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) and Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) regularly haul out at the site, and Southern Elephant and Weddell seals have been observed breeding in the area (ASPA No.128 Management Plan, 2014). Over winter, Leopard Seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) and Crabeater Seals (Lobodon carcinophagus) are regularly observed on nearby ice floes (ASPA No. 128 Management Plan, 2014).


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Important Bird Areas factsheet: West Admiralty Bay, King George Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/12/2018.