|Location||Australia, Western Australia|
|Central coordinates||115o 33.93' East 20o 38.79' South|
|Altitude||0 - 30m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary The Lowendal Islands Archipelago regularly supports more than 1% of the global population of Crested Tern and Bridled Tern.
Site description The Lowendal Archipelago is about 120 km off Onslow on the Pilbara coast. It is about 10 km north-east of Barrow Island IBA and 15 km south of Montebello Islands IBA. The archipelago consists of 34 islands and islets, of which the largest, Varanus Island, is 83 ha, measuring 2.5 km by 600 m. Other large islands include Abutilon (27 ha), Bridled (27 ha), Parkinsonia (10 ha) and Beacon (1.5 ha); all are included in the IBA as Crested Tern colonies move between islands and they have nested on at least three of these five large islands, and Bridled Terns nest on another large island and probably in smaller numbers across the archipelago. The islands are raised limestone rocks with sparse vegetation. Varanus has an industrial gas separation plant, oil storage tanks and a pipeline to load oil into tankers moored offshore. Inshore waters support coral reefs, sea-grass and algae beds. Several oil drilling platforms and an oil processing platform, Harriet Alpha, are located a few kilometres offshore.
Key Biodiversity 6000 pairs of Roseate Terns nested in 1997, probably a temporary re-location of the population nesting on the Montebello Islands. Estimated numbers of other breeding seabirds include 800 pairs of Wedge-tailed Shearwater, 600 pairs of Pied Cormorant, 700 pairs of Lesser Crested Tern (in 1997-1999), less than 100 pairs of Caspian Tern and 2000 pairs of Silver Gull (Nicholson ref).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii||breeding||1997-2008||4,000-9,097 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus||breeding||1995||3,000-5,000 breeding pairs||-||A4i||Least Concern|
|2008||medium||not assessed||not assessed|
|Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data|
|Energy production and mining||oil and gas drilling||likely in long term (beyond 4 years)||majority/most of area/population (50-90%)||moderate to rapid deterioration||medium|
|Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases||problematic native species/diseases - named species||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Lowendal||Nature Reserve||179||protected area contains site||160|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Coastline||Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets||major|
Land ownership Varanus Island managed by DEC as part of Lowendal Islands Nature Reserve (class C) but 30 ha leased to Apache Energy for oil and gas production.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|Notes: Varanus Island managed by DEC as part of Lowendal Islands Nature Reserve (class C) but 30 ha leased to Apache Energy for oil and gas exploration.|
|energy production and mining||minor|
Protection status Lowendal Islands Nature Reserve.
Acknowledgements The data was kindly provided by Apache Energy Ltd through their annual Seabird Monitoring Program undertaken by Halfmoon Biosciences (CA Surman and LW Nicholson).
References Dunlop, J.N. (1996) Habituation to human disturbance by breeding Bridled Terns Sternus anaethetus. Corella 20: 13-16.
Nicholson, L.W. (2002) Breeding strategies and Community Structure in an Assemblage of Tropical Seabirds on the Lowendal Islands, Western Australia. Unpublished PhD. Thesis for Murdoch University.
Nicholson, L.W. and Surman, C.A. (2006) Monitoring of annual variation in seabird breeding colonies throughout the Lowendal Group of islands: 2006 Annual Report. Unpublished Report prepared for Apache Energy Ltd by Halfmoon Biosciences.
Surman, C.A. and L.W. Nicholson (2005) Monitoring of annual variation in seabird breeding colonies throughout the Lowendal Group of islands: 2005 Annual Report. Unpublished report prepared for Apache Energy Ltd by Halfmoon Biosciences.
Surman, C.A. and Nicholson, L.W. (2007) Monitoring of annual variation in seabird breeding colonies throughout the Lowendal Group of islands: 2007 Annual Report. Unpublished report prepared for Apache Energy Ltd by Halfmoon Biosciences.
Surman, C.A. and Nicholson, L.W. (2008) Monitoring of annual variation in seabird breeding colonies throughout the Lowendal Group of islands: 2008 Annual Report. Unpublished report prepared for Apache Energy Ltd. by Halfmoon Biosciences.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lowendal Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 14/10/2015
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