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Location Australia, Tasmania
Central coordinates 148o 20.08' East  39o 56.91' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4ii
Area 507 ha
Altitude 0 - 200m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia



Summary The three granite islands in the Babel Island Group support more than 1% of the world's Short-tailed Shearwater and Little Penguin.

Site description The Babel Island Group IBA consists of Babel, Cat and Storehouse islands, east of Flinders Island in Bass Strait. These are granite islands with sandy soil, dominated by the grass Poa poeformis. Babel Island is owned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and is much larger (441 ha) than Cat and Storehouse Islands, both of which are Conservation Areas. The central hill at Babel Island slopes gently to the shoreline, where there are two large beaches, a sandy spit at the southwest side, and several buildings at West Beach, the Gulch, South East Beach and along the east coast. Cat Island (39 ha) is flat, with steep cliffs on the east side; and Storehouse Island (20 ha) has a gently undulating landscape.

Key Biodiversity 1585 pairs of Crested Tern and 29 pairs of Sooty Oystercatcher. Peregrine Falcon breeds at Babel Island. Cat Island has a pair of Hooded Plover and is important as a site for the potential re-colonisation of Australasian Gannet, though nesting habitat has not fully recovered from a very destructive fire in 1984, when the impressive 5000-10000 birds found here in 1908, and 1000 in 1938, had already declined to a very small colony. Deployment of decoys since 1988 has not been successful but manual re-colonisation of reared chicks is being considered.

Non-bird biodiversity: Bennett's Wallaby, Tasmanian Pademelon, Water Rat, Metallic Skink, Three-lined Skink, White's Skink, Blue-tongued Lizard and Tiger Snake are some of the other animals recorded, mostly at Babel Island. Vegetation is dominated by Poa poiformis, Rhagodia candolleana, Tetragonia implexicoma, Atriplex cinerea and areas of scrub (especially myrtaceous species).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Little Penguin Eudyptula minor resident  1986  33,743 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Short-tailed Shearwater Ardenna tenuirostris resident  1986  3,113,600-3,428,794 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Pacific Gull Larus pacificus resident  1986  50-62 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
unset
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cat Island Conservation Area 30 protected area contained by site 30  
Storehouse Island Conservation Area 27 protected area contained by site 198  

Habitats

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

Land ownership Cat Island and Storehouse Island are Conservation Areas; Babel Island is owned by the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting major
Notes: commercial 'muttonbirding'

Protection status Cat Island and Storehouse Island are Conservation Areas.

Access/Land-Owner requests Permission should be sought from the Tasmanian Aboriginal community or DPIW before visiting these islands.

Acknowledgements Rachael Alderman and Rosemary Gales of DPIW kindly commented on the nomination. The nomination was prepared by Peter Britton.

References Brothers, N., Pemberton, D., Pryor, H. & Halley, V. (2001). Tasmania's Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art gallery: Hobart.

Phillipps, H. (1993). Last chance for Cat Island. Wingspan 9: 4-6.

Skira, I.J., Brothers, N.P. & Pemberton, D. (1996). Distribution, abundance and conservation status of Short-tailed Shearwaters Puffinus tenuirostris in Tasmania, Australia. Marine Ornithology 24: 1-14.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Babel Island Group. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/12/2014

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