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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 144o 51.06' East  14o 19.13' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4ii
Area 4 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary Stapleton Island has rarely been surveyed but has supported more than 1% of the world population of Brown Booby and Lesser Crested Tern.

Site description Stapleton Island is about 40 km east of Cape Melville in the northern Great Barrier Reef. It is designated as a Preservation Area, the strongest protection within the marine park, strictly regulating all access. It is an elongated narrow cay, about 500 m x 100 m at its widest. The cay is comprised of coral sand and reef rubble rising to a central sand ridge 5 m above sea-level. The outer fringe has a strand community of herbs and the sand ridge is dominated by Lepturus grass and stunted shrubs. Other neighbouring islands could be added to the IBA if further surveys indicate that they regularly support significant numbers of birds, notably Tydeman Cay (1 ha; 738 nests of Brown Booby in 1982) and Sandbank no1 (1 ha; 500 nests of Brown Booby in 1984).

Key Biodiversity Small numbers of breeding Australian Pelican, Black-naped Tern, Sooty Tern (regular counts of 5000-10,000 pairs), Crested Tern, Common Noddy (max 1000 pairs in 1980-1984) and Little Tern (1000 pairs in 1987).

Non-bird biodiversity: Small numbers of Green Turtles.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster breeding  1984  1,000 nests  A4ii  Least Concern 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis resident  1987-1993  800-9,800 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus resident  1987-1989  3,000-10,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Climate change and severe weather storms and floods likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now 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)  
Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Site 34,870,000 protected area contains site 4  
Howick Group National Park 776 protected area contains site 4  


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

Land ownership Australian Federal Government with management the responsibility of the GBRMPA.

Land use

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

Protection status The IBA lies within Howick Group National Park.

Acknowledgements Paul O'Neill provided advice and access to the GBR seabird database.

References GBRMPA. (1997) Guidelines for Managing Visitation to Seabird Breeding Islands. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority unpublished report.

King, B.R. (1985) Stapleton Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Corella 9: 89-90. Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (2007) GBR seabird database (accessed May 2007).

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

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