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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 144o 28.41' East  13o 58.70' South
IBA criteria A4ii
Area 4 ha
Altitude 0 - 2m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary Wilson Reef has supported more than 1% of the world population of Brown Booby and large numbers of Sooty Terns.

Site description This IBA consists of Wilson Reef in the Great Barrier Reef about 30 km north of Cape Melville on the Cape York Peninsula. Wilson Reef (4.5 ha) is a small coral reef with no significant islands except for some unnamed sand cays. There are numerous other similar reefs in this area, which may also support significant numbers of birds. Wilson Reef is in the habitat protection zone of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Key Biodiversity Also 5000 pairs of Sooty Tern in 1995, 10,600 pairs in 1999 and 6350 pairs in 2000; and 6000 pairs Common Noddy at an un-named cay at -13.98 ºS, 144.44 ºE in 1988.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster resident  1995-1997  1,000-1,400 nests  medium  A4ii  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 whole area/population (>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  


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

Land ownership Australian Federal Government with management the responsibility of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Land use

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

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 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority unpublished report.

Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (2007) GBR seabird database (accessed May 2007).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Wilson Reef (Great Barrier Reef). Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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