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Location Australia, Northern Territory
Central coordinates 136o 55.90' East  15o 29.97' South
IBA criteria A4i
Area 9 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA of three adjacent islands supports more than 1% of the world population of Crested and Roseate Terns. Further surveys may indicate that other nearby islands may also be important.

Site description The IBA includes three adjacent islands, Pearce islet, Urquhart islet and Hervey Rocks, all north-east of North Island in the Edward Pellew Group of the western Gulf of Carpentaria. Pearce is a large, low vegetated islet. Urquhart is a reasonably large, low, circular, vegetated, rock and coral rubble island. Hervey Rocks is a small, low, partially vegetated rock island with a small sand spit (Chatto 2001 island refs S070, S071 and S072). The IBA may be extended to other poorly-known nearby islands if they are surveyed more thoroughly and shown to support large numbers of nesting terns.

Key Biodiversity Chatto (2001) made several counts on each island. Crested Terns were nesting on Urquhart each year when R. Chatto visited March-July, but were reported to have moved to nearby Turtle Islet in 2000. The highest count of breeding Roseate Terns was 7500+ in 1999 when there were also well over 10,000 additional non-breeding birds roosting nearby. 2000 Bridled Terns were counted on Pearce in 1994, when 1000 were counted on Hervey Rocks. Pearce and Urquhart also support small numbers of Black-naped Terns (max 100 and 60, respectively), and up to 280 Roseate Terns were counted nesting on Pearce in 1994.

Non-bird biodiversity: Large numbers of marine turtles nest on the islands (Chatto 2001).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii breeding  1990-2001  50,000 unknown  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii breeding  1990-2001  17,500 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 low not assessed not assessed
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

No known threats no known threats happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets  100%

Land ownership Wurralibi ALT

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
other 100%
Notes: Traditional Use

Access/Land-Owner requests Traditionally-owned land.

References Chatto, R. (2001) The distribution and status of colonial breeding seabirds in the NT. Technical Report 70. Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston. Harrison, L., McGuire, L., Ward, S. Fisher, A., Pavey, C., Fegan, M. and Lynch, B. (2009) An inventory of sites of international and national significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT. Ward, S. and Harrison, L. (2009) Recognising sites of conservation significance for biodiversity values in the Northern Territory. Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts & Sport, Darwin, NT.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pearce, Urquhart and Hervey Islands (Sir Edward Pellew Group). Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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