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Location Russia (Asian), Chukotka
Central coordinates 175o 16.90' West  67o 4.98' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i
Area 1,025,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2004


Site description This embayment is 56 miles (90 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide along the north coast of the Chukotsky Peninsula in the Chukotka Autonomous District (66° 13' N; 174° 00'W). Shallow waters at the head of the bay, Kolyuchin Island 31 miles (50 km) northwest on the continental shelf, and Belyaka Spit at the bay's entrance constitute the IBA's most outstanding bird concentration areas. The nearest habitation is the Native village of Nutepel'men, 57 miles (91 km) northwest from the bay's entrance.

Key Biodiversity The bay’s shallow waters and low-lying tussock tundra with its shallow lakes are attractive to a variety of nesting and molting waterbirds. This is an area where the ranges of the North American tundra swan and Asian Bewick’s swan overlap. Pacific and yellowbilled loons are common, along with lesser numbers of Arctic and red-throated loons. Greater white-fronted geese are common nesters, along with northern pintails, long-tailed ducks, common eiders and sandhill cranes. Several thousand each of snow geese, emperor geese and brant arrive annually to molt. The fall season brings aggregations of migrating geese, eiders and shorebirds. Kittlitz's murrelets that are seen in the bay may nest in the nearby mountains. Pacific golden-plovers, Eurasian dotterels, rufous-necked stints, and short-billed dowitchers are typical nesting shorebirds. Northern wheatears, bluethroats, Arctic warblers, red-throated pipits, hoary redpolls, Lapland longspurs and snow buntings are the most common breeding passerines. Kolyuchin Island supports a seabird colony of thousands of common and thick-billed murres and black-legged kittiwakes along with homed puffins and herring gulls. The 447-square-mile (1,144 sq km) Belyaka Spit provides nestmg habitat to two endemic Beringian birds, the emperor goose (5 percent of the Russian population) and spoon-billed sandpiper (3 percent of world population).

Other notable wildlife: Pacific walrus and seals inhabit coastal waters, and polar bears range throughout the coastal zone. An endemic species of blackfish can be found in area lakes.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Steller's Eider Polysticta stelleri breeding  2004  present  A4i  Vulnerable 
Emperor Goose Anser canagicus breeding  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Yellow-billed Loon Gavia adamsii passage  2004  present  A4i  Near Threatened 
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea breeding  2004  present  A1, A4i  Critically Endangered 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Tundra  -

Acknowledgements The identification of IBAs and information collected between 1980 and 2009 provided by the IBA network of the Russian Bird Conservation Union (RBCU).

References Audubon Alaska / BirdLife Asia / RBCU (2004) Important Bird Areas of the Bering Sea ecoregion. Anchorage, USA: Audubon Alaska. 46 pp.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Vankarem lowlands and Kolyuchin bay. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife