|Location||Australia, South Australia|
|Central coordinates||139o 26.53' East 35o 59.25' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A3, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 3m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The Coorong has regularly supported >1% of the world population of Australian Shelduck, Chestnut Teal, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Pied Oystercatcher, Banded Stilt, Red-necked Avocet and Red-capped Plover, and significant numbers of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, vulnerable Fairy Tern and near threatened Hooded Plover, although many are in steep decline from reduced freshwater inflows. Two sightings of the endangered Australasian Bittern were reported in Atlas of Australian Birds surveys undertaken from 1998 to 2008.
Site description This IBA is similar to the Coorong National Park but excludes some dry areas of the national park and includes the coastal Younghusband Peninusla as far south as the southernmost point of the park. The Coorong is a coastal lagoon inland of the coastal dunes of the Younghusband and Sir Richard Peninsulas, it extends for about 140 km south-east from the mouth of the River Murray and is up to 5 km wide and up to 3 m deep. It is separated from the freshwater Lake Alexandrina and the Murray by a series of barrages. The waters are seasonally fresh around the barrages at times of high flow, to brackish at the Murray mouth and hypersaline in the southern lagoon. Mud flats and shallow sandbars in the southern lagoon provide good shorebird habitat. However reduced inflows of fresh water has lead to an increase in salinity and a marked decrease in the system's importance to freshwater and brackish bird species. A total of 234,000 shorebirds was counted in 1982, declining to 38,000 in 2007 (Gosbell and Christie 2007). Salinisation has been caused by lack of fresh water inflow over Murray barrages and consequential restricted tidal inflow; and lack of inflow from natural catchment to south-east (Phillips and Muller 2006). Densities of Hooded Plovers decline southwards from the Murray mouth (Stephens et al. 2006), so the IBA is not extended further south beyond the limit of the Coorong, however there are several recent historic records of Orange-bellied Parrots along the coast to Kingston. The Morella basin has also supported large numbers of birds when wet, including 400 Freckled Duck in 2001 (Atlas of Australian Birds database).
Key Biodiversity The Coorong used to meet IBA criteria for Curlew Sandpiper (max 39,882 in 1981) but has steadily declined to 2,171 in 2007 (Gosbell and Christie 2007). Numbers of Australian Pelicans were high (2293-5649 in 2000-2005) and this has been the only permanent nesting sites in Australia, but have also crashed. It also supports regionally important numbers of many other shorebirds and waterbirds including annual counts of 2324-8461 Hoary-headed Grebe (but over 60,000 in 1980s), 59-218 Black-faced Cormorants, 15-402 Cape Barren Goose, 66-441 Musk Duck, 10,811-39,510 Grey Teal, 1300-5638 Crested Tern, 3163-4660 Whiskered Tern between 2000-2007 (Paton 2005, Rogers and Paton 2007). 18,000 unidentified terns were estimated from aerial surveys of north Coorong on 2007 (Kingsford and Porter 2008). The biome-restricted Rock Parrot is uncommon in the Coorong (D. Paton pers. comm. 2008; Atlas of Australian Birds database).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides||unknown||2000-2005||2,738-8,581 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Chestnut Teal Anas castanea||unknown||2000-2007||3,037-21,304 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Australasian Bittern Botaurus poiciloptilus||unknown||1998-2008||rare||-||A1||Endangered|
|Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris||resident||1981-2007||544-742 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Banded Stilt Cladorhynchus leucocephalus||resident||1981-2007||2,354-250,000 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Red-necked Avocet Recurvirostra novaehollandiae||resident||1981-2007||93-6,030 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Hooded Plover Thinornis cucullatus||resident||1988-2007||50-82 individuals||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus||resident||1981-2007||474-4,677 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis||non-breeding||1981-2007||17,478-63,794 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata||non-breeding||1981-2007||3,848-33,897 individuals||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Fairy Tern Sternula nereis||resident||2000-2007||100-150 breeding pairs||medium||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|Orange-bellied Parrot Neophema chrysogaster||non-breeding||1979-2007||20 individuals||medium||A1, A3||Critically Endangered|
|Rufous Bristlebird Dasyornis broadbenti||resident||1998-2008||frequent||-||A2, A3||Least Concern|
|Striated Fieldwren Calamanthus fuliginosus||resident||-||uncommon||-||A3||Least Concern|
|2013||high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Climate change and severe weather||drought||likely in long term (beyond 4 years)||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||very rapid to severe deterioration||high|
|Human intrusions and disturbance||recreational activities||happening now||small area/few individuals (<10%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Coorong||National Park||48,958||protected area overlaps with site||49,697|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Salt marshes||major|
Land ownership Owned by the South Australian State Government and managed by the Department for Environment and Heritage (DEH).
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||100%|
Protection status The IBA overlaps with most of Coorong National Park.
Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by Ken Gosbell. Australasian Wader Studies Group, Ken Gosbell and DEH south-east have organised and undertaken the annual shorebird counts. David Paton has provided data and advice. Brenton Grear (DEH, Mt Gambier/Adelaide)acted as a consultant.
References Buick, A.M. and Paton, D.C. (1989) Impact of off-road vehicles on the nesting success of Hooded Plovers Charadrius rubricollis in the Coorong region of South Australia. Emu 89: 159–172.
Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs (2005) Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert wetland of international importance. Draft report, October 2005. Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs: Adelaide.
Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2006) The Breeding of Banded Stilt and Red-Necked Avocet in the Coorong, South Australia: December 2005 – February 2006. Stilt 50: 277-284.
Gosbell, K. and Christie, M. (2007) Report on wader surveys in the Coorong & S.E. Coastal Lakes. February 2007. Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report: Melbourne.
Gosbell, K., Collins, P. and Christie, M. (2003) Wader surveys in the Coorong & S.E. Coastal Lakes. February 2003. Australasian Waders Studies Group unpublished report: Melbourne.
Kingsford, R.T. and Porter, J.L. (2008) Survey of waterbird communities of the Living Murray icon sites - November 2007. Unpublished report to Murray-Darling Basin Commission. University of NSW: Sydney.
Paton, D.C. (2005) Monitoring of biotic systems in the Coorong region 2004-2005. University of Adelaide: unpublished report.
Phillips, W. and Muller, K. (2006) Ecological character of the Coorong and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert wetland of international importance. Department for Environment and Heritage: Adelaide.
Rogers, R.J. and Paton, D.C. (2007) Monitoring the Waterbirds of the Coorong, with particular reference to indicator species for the CLLAMM Icon Site. University of Adelaide: unpublished report.
Seymour, J., Paton, D. C. and Rogers, D. J. (2003) The conservation status of the Rufous Bristlebird, Dasyornis broadbenti, in South Australia. Emu 103: 315–321.
Stephens, E., Graham, A. and Seaman, R. (2006) Hooded Plover data analysis 2002-2005, Coorong Ocean Beach, South Australia. Department for Environment and Heritage: Adelaide.
Wainwright, P. (2008) Latest survey suggests further decline in wader abundance at the Coorong, South Australia. Tattler 9: 3.
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