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Location Australia, Western Australia
Central coordinates 122o 7.53' East  16o 51.45' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4ii
Area 165 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports >1% of the global populations of Brown Booby and Roseate Tern. The breeding colony of Brown Booby is possibly the largest anywhere in the world.

Site description The IBA consists of the four islands - West Island, Middle Island, East Island and Sandy Island- that comprise the Lacepede Islands, these being located about 120 km north of Broome, 55 km west of Beagle Bay and about 25 km off the coast of northern Western Australia. The Lacepede Islands receive, on average, about 750 mm of rainfall per year. The islands are formed of coarse sand and coral rubble deposited atop a large platform reef. The islands are treeless but support scattered, low vegetation.

Key Biodiversity The Lacepede Islands are also used for breeding by Masked Booby, Australian Pelican, Eastern Reef Egret, Silver Gull, Lesser Crested Tern and Crested Tern. Species that have been recorded in good numbers but do not meet criteria based on available data include Lesser Frigatebird (2700 pairs in 1982, 2000 birds in 1993, 1497 birds in 1998, 1500+ birds in 2001 and 2000 birds in 2006), Grey-tailed Tattler (397 birds in 1998, 900 birds in 1999, 300 birds in 2001 and 300 birds in 2006), Ruddy Turnstone (1050 birds in 1997, 1015 birds in 1998 and 1900 birds in 1999), Great Knot (1025 birds in 1998 and 1055 birds in 1999), Pied Oystercatcher (58 birds [including 28 pairs] in 1998 and 31 birds [including 12 pairs and one chick] in 1999), Sooty Oystercatcher (43 birds [including 19 pairs] in 1998 and 36 birds [including 14 pairs, two juveniles and two chicks] in 1999), Greater Sand Plover (637 birds in 1998), Lesser Crested Tern (500 to 1000 birds in 1989, 327 birds in 1999, 500 birds in 2001 and 300 birds in 2006), Crested Tern (1300 birds in 1999 and 600 birds in 2006), Bridled Tern (3210 birds in 1998, 585 birds in 1999, 3000+ birds in 2001 and 4000 birds in 2006) and Common Noddy (counts of 12,300 birds in 1998, 30,000 birds in 1999, 30,000 birds in 2001 and 20,000 birds in 2006) (Burbidge et al. 1988; Wilson & Hassel 1998; Atlas of Australian Birds Database; Department of Environment and Conservation Seabird Database; C. Hassell unpublished data; Kimberley Birdwatching unpublished data).

Non-bird biodiversity: The Lacepede Islands are the most significant breeding ground in Western Australia for the nationally vulnerable Green Turtle.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster resident  1982-2006  18,000 breeding pairs  good  A4ii  Least Concern 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii unknown  1998-2006  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lacepede Islands Nature Reserve 180 protected area contains site 165  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Sand cays, islets & bars  100%

Land ownership Western Australian State Government with responsibility for management with the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%

Protection status Site is within Lacepede Islands Nature Reserve.

Access/Land-Owner requests Permission to visit should be obtained from DEC.

Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Andrew Burbidge in consultation with DEC, Mike Carter and George Swann. Susan Forbes and Amelia Tandy kindly provided data.

References Burbidge, A.A., Fuller, P.J., Lane, J.A.K. and Moore, S.A. (1987) Counts of nesting boobies and Lesser Frigate-birds in Western Australia. Emu 87, 128-129.

Wilson, J.R. and Hassell, C. (1998) Wader counts on the Lacepede Islands, Western Australia. Stilt 33, 49-50.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lacepede Islands. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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