|Central coordinates||150o 33.38' East 22o 29.26' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 19m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The IBA supports more than 1% of the global populations of the congregatory Pied Oystercatcher, Eastern Curlew and Grey-tailed Tattler; significant numbers of the near threatened Beach Stone-curlew; a population of the restricted-range Mangrove Honeyeater; and more than 1% of the East Asian-Australasian flyway populations of the congregratory Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Terek Sandpiper.
Site description Shoalwater Bay is located 93 km north of Rockhampton and comprises a complex continuous wetland aggregation that is formed in a large shallow marine embayment. It is a good example of shallow marine and estuarine wetland, and various freshwater wetland types on coastal sands. The site is part of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, which is 453,700 ha of mainland, islands and intervening marine areas, owned by the Department of Defence (Australian Government) and managed equally for the purposes of military training and nature conservation. The IBA covers all wetland habitat suitable for migratory shorebirds, including all intertidal mud flats, extending from Broome Head in the north to the southern boundary of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, including Akens Island, Pelican Rock and Corio Bay to the south and including the north-eastern beaches, which have limited intertidal areas for migratory shorebirds but support Beach Stone-curlews. The IBA excludes the marine waters within the Training Area, some inland sections of the Ramsar site and the dry mainland portions of the Training Area. Six wetland habitats occur within the area: shallow open water systems including seagrass beds, rocky marine shores, beaches and bars, lower intertidal mudflats, mangrove communities, supra-tidal flats and freshwater swamps (wet heath, grass/sedge and shrubby/wooded).
Key Biodiversity Shoalwater Bay was estimated to support 23,000 migratory shorebirds in 1995 and 32,000 in 2007 (Jaensch 2008). This includes significant populations of Bar-tailed Godwit (5077 in 1195; 4242 in 2007); Whimbrel (7089 in 1995; 2891 in 2007); Terek Sandpiper (3410 in 1995; 1953 in 2007) and Little Tern (1300 in 1995). Australian Pelicans nest on Akens Island, usually 300-400 pairs but occasionally up to 1000 pairs (P. O'Neill in litt. 2008). Access to the island is restricted by the Department of Defence. A total of 226 bird species have been recorded from the larger Shoalwater Bay Training Area (Ramsar summary on DEH website). Bush Stone-Curlew have been recorded in the region (Atlas of Australian Birds database) but numbers of this species are unknown.
Non-bird biodiversity: Rich aquatic beds of seagrass that consist of eight species, and 18 of the 39 species of mangrove found in Australia, occur in the area. The seagrass provides extensive areas of Dugong habitat. Significant non-breeding populations of Green Turtle use the area, and Loggerhead, Flatback and Hawksbill Turtles also occur. Estuarine Crocodiles have been observed in Shoalwater Creek and Port Clinton.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Beach Thick-knee Esacus magnirostris||resident||1995-2007||90 individuals||medium||A1||Near Threatened|
|Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris||resident||1995-2007||307-376 individuals||good||A4i||Least Concern|
|Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes||non-breeding||1995-2007||3,014-3,831 individuals||good||A4i||Near Threatened|
|Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis||non-breeding||1995-2007||1,365-2,844 individuals||good||A4i||Vulnerable|
|Mangrove Honeyeater Lichenostomus fasciogularis||resident||1995-2008||abundant||-||A2||Least Concern|
|2008||medium||not assessed||not assessed|
|Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data|
|Human intrusions and disturbance||war, civil unrest and military exercises||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||slow but significant deterioration||medium|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Great Barrier Reef||Marine Park||34,440,000||protected area overlaps with site||11,560|
|Great Barrier Reef||World Heritage Site||34,870,000||protected area overlaps with site||22,687|
|Mackay / Capricorn||Marine Park||3,400,190||protected area overlaps with site||36,520|
|Port Clinton (Reef Point - Cape Clinton)||Dugong Protection Area (A)||17,540||protected area overlaps with site||8,163|
|Shoalwater Bay||Conservation Park||1,650||protected area overlaps with site||13|
|Shoalwater Bay||Dugong Protection Area (A)||81,029||protected area overlaps with site||14,627|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Estuarine waters; Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats; Mangrove wetlands; Sand cays, islets & bars; Sand dunes & beaches; Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets||major|
|Wetlands (inland)||Permanent herbaceous swamps & bogs||major|
Land ownership Department of Defence.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
Protection status The IBA overlaps with five protected areas.
Access/Land-Owner requests Access is strictly prohibited without authorisation from the Department of Defence.
Acknowledgements Allan Briggs of Birds Australia Capricornia, John McCabe of QPWS, Paul O'Neill of QPWS (now Defence), Peter Driscoll and Roger Jaensch of Wetlands International kindly provided data and comments. The nomination was kindly supported by Leanne Sommer of the Department of Defence.
References Capricorn Coast Protection Council (1974) An ecological study of Corio Bay, Central Queensland. Commissioned Report.
Driscoll, P. (1995) Survey of shorebird feeding areas and roosts in the Shoalwater Bay area. Unpublished report.
Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS) for Shoalwater and Corio Bays Area (Shoalwater Bay Training Area, in part - Corio Bay) - 44, taken from www.deh.gov.au/cgi-bin/wetlands
Jaensch, R. 2008. A condition assessment of wetlands and waterbirds in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. Part 4: numbers of migratory shorebirds. Unpublished report to Australian Government Department of Defence, by Wetlands International, Brisbane.
O'Neill, P. and Driscoll, P. (1995) Survey of shorebird feeding areas and roosts in the Shoalwater Bay area. Commissioned report for Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage and the Queensland Wader Studies Group.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Shoalwater Bay (Rockhampton). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/09/2015
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