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Location Australia, Western Australia
Central coordinates 120o 52.46' East  19o 34.71' South
IBA criteria A2, A4i
Area 31,275 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA regularly supports more than 400,000 migratory shorebirds, regularly including more than 1% of the world population of Bar-tailed Godwit, Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Greater Sand Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Oriental Plover, Oriental Pratincole, Red Knot, Red-necked Stint, Terek Sandpiper, Pied Oystercatcher and Red-capped Plover, and irregular high counts of other species.

Site description Eighty Mile Beach is in the southern Kimberley, south of Broome. The IBA is defined as the intertidal flats and sandy beach between Cape Missiessy, 142 km south of Broome, to Cape Keraudren, 220 km further south. It lies immediately adjacent to the Mandora Marsh & Anna Plains IBA, but as only a few species of shorebird move regularly between the beach and plains, these are kept as separate IBAs (Oriental Plover and Little Curlew feed on the plains and sometimes use the beach as a hot-weather refuge). The climate is semi-arid monsoonal with a hot wet summer and a warm dry winter. Eighty Mile Beach is a long and relatively featureless beach with intertidal mudflats rich in benthic organisms. The beach is approximately 100 m wide and includes several irregular, muddy, microscale embayments, while the adjoining tidal mudflats vary from an estimated 1 to 5 km in width. Shorebirds are found along this entire stretch of coastline but are most concentrated where the mud-flats are widest. The IBA is included within the Eighty-mile Beach Ramsar site.

Key Biodiversity A count in 2001 indicated the wader population at Eighty Mile Beach numbered approximately 470,000 individuals (Minton et al 2003b) while another 150-200,000 use the site as a migration stop-over (DEWHA 2008). The beach regularly supports a few individuals of the near threatened Asian Dowitcher. The near threatened Black-tailed Godwit has been recorded in large numbers but not in recent years: counts include 205 in 1993, 450 in 1994, max 15 1995-2000, 268 in 2001, 1 in 2002, 1 in 2003, 0 in 2004, 2 in 2005, 18 in 2006 and 24 in 2007 (Australian Shorebird Count Database). It also supports nationally important and occasionally globally important numbers of Broad-billed Sandpiper (max 205 in 2001); and Curlew Sandpiper: counts include 5199 in 2007, 1608 in 2006, 4332 in 2005, 495 in 2004, 693 in 2003, 1430 in 2002, 11,867 in 2001 and max 4115 in 1993-2000 but not all counts were complete or at optimal times (Australian Shorebird Count Database) and a historical max count of 60,000 (Lane 1987); Little Curlew (max 3261 in 2005, 1280 in 2006 and 1155 in 2004); Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (max thousands on the beach in 1982 and 25,000 in mid-September 1984) (Australian Shorebird Count Database). It has occasionally supported high numbers of terns but the regularity of such numbers is uncertain: max 30,000 White-winged Tern in 2004, with previous highest count of 6000 in 1989 (Minton et al. 2004); max 6046 Roseate Tern in 2004 but only 405 in 2005 (Rogers et al. 2006) and max 1994 Gull-billed Tern in 2003 (Minton et al. 2003c).

Non-bird biodiversity: The nationally Vulnerable Flatback Turtle Natator depressus regularly nests at scattered locations along Eighty Mile Beach. The primary dunes of Eighty Mile Beach are stabilised by Spinifex longifolius and Crotalaria cunninghamii. Secondary parallel, calcareous dune ridges and swales commonly feature scattered Dune Wattle Acacia bivenosa. Important grasses include Whiteochloa airoides and the local endemic Triodia epactia, a resinous hummock-forming species. There are two minor mangrove stands within the IBA, each of which occupy about 50 ha around small tidal creeks near Mandora Station. The mangrove stands are dominated by Avicennia marina 4-6 m in height with a few Ceriops tagal. Samphire communities also occur in the vicinity. Many of the 114 species of benthic fauna found in the IBA are present in high densities.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pied Oystercatcher Haematopus longirostris resident  1998-2006  6-694 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Red-capped Plover Charadrius ruficapillus resident  1998-2006  1,455-11,783 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii non-breeding  1998-2006  7,435-63,482 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Oriental Plover Charadrius veredus non-breeding  1998-2006  7,704-57,619 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-tailed Tattler Tringa brevipes non-breeding  1998-2006  3,002-16,762 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica non-breeding  1998-2006  14,479-93,818 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Far Eastern Curlew Numenius madagascariensis non-breeding  1998-2006  119-709 individuals  A4i  Endangered 
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus non-breeding  1998-2006  2,945-11,944 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris non-breeding  1998-2006  18,115-167,353 individuals  A4i  Endangered 
Red Knot Calidris canutus non-breeding  1998-2006  680-24,701 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis non-breeding  1998-2006  3,388-33,307 individuals  A4i  Near Threatened 
Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum non-breeding  1998-2006  2,880,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Dusky Gerygone Gerygone tenebrosa resident  1998-2008  common  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 low not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: large scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors shipping lanes happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats  100%

Land ownership Crown Land with four adjoining pastoral leases (Mandora, Anna Plains, Wallal, Pardoo).

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture minor
Notes: Seasonal commercial fishing; pearling grounds.
not utilised major

Access/Land-Owner requests Permission for access needs to be acquired from stations.

Acknowledgements The owners of Anna Plains Station have supported the Australasian Wader Studies Group and Broome Bird Observatory to undertake bird research at the site.

References DEWHA (2008) A Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia. Eighty Mile Beach System-WA018. Downloaded from accessed November 2008.

Lane, B.A. (1987) Shorebirds in Australia. Melbourne: Nelson Publishers.

Minton, C., Collins, P., Sitters, H., Hassell, C. and Jessop, R. (2004) NWA wader and tern expedition 24 January to 14 February, 2004. Stilt 45: 54-59.

Minton, C., Jessop, R., Collins, P. and Sitters, H. (2003a) Northwest Australia wader and tern expedition from 1 August to 1 November 1998. Stilt 43: 42-46.

Minton, C., Jessop, R. and Collins, P. (2003b) Northwest Australia wader and tern expedition from 15 September to 17 November 2001. Stilt 43: 55-67.

Minton, C., Jessop, R. and Collins, P. (2003c) A summary of the results of the Northwestern Australia wader and tern expedition from 28 June to 19 July 2003. Stilt 44: 64-72.

Minton, C., Jessop, R., Collins, P. and Hassell, C. (2005) NWA 2005 wader and tern expedition, 12 February to 6 March 2005. Stilt 47: 58-64.

Piersma, T., Pearson, G.B., Hickey, R. and Lavaleye, M. (eds) (2005) The long mud: benthos and shorebirds of the foreshore of Eighty-Mile Beach, Western Australia. Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Texel. NIOZ Report 20005/2.

Rogers, D.I., Rogers, K.G., Gosbell, K.B. and Hassell, C.J. (2006) Causes of variation in population monitoring surveys: insights from non-breeding counts in north-western Australia 2004-2005. Stilt 50: 176-193.

Sitters, K., Minton, C., Collins, P., Etheridge, B., Hassell, C. and O’Connor, F. (2004) Extraordinary numbers of Oriental Pratincoles in NW Australia. Stilt 45: 43-49.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Eighty Mile Beach. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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