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Location Portugal, Azores
Central coordinates 27o 59.45' West  39o 3.27' North
IBA criteria A1, A4ii, A4iii, B1ii, C2, C4
Area 27,700 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2008

Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves

Site description This IBA surrounds Graciosa island entirely, as there are populations of Common Tern and Roseate Tern that feed in waters around the island almost exclusively (Verónica Neves com pess.). Around the main island there are smaller islands, two of which are classified as SPA: Baixo and Praia islets, where breeds all of the breeding population of hot-season Madeiran Storm-petrel (Monteiro's Storm-petrel) known in the world, estimated approximately at 250 to 450 pairs. On the Baixo islet, seven species of seabird breed, in what is one of the most important multispecific colonies in the archipelago, while on Praia islet the largest breeding colonies of Common Tern and Madeiran Storm-petrel are to be found, as well as an important Roseate Tern colony. Fishing in the IBA is not very extensive and is mostly traditional fishing, despite the fact that the depths around Graciosa are very rich, as the increase in recreational diving in this area shows (Meirinho et al. 2003).

Key Biodiversity Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea: This is the most abundant species on Graciosa island, with a population estimated at over 25,000 individuals on the whole island (DOP-IMAR UAç). Individual tagging work indicates that Cory's Shearwaters use the eastern sector of the island to form rafts and do most of their feeding dives within the proposed area. Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis: This species breeds on Baixo and Praia islands, although in smaller numbers (some tens of pairs on each island, Monteiro et al. 1999). Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro: Praia and Baixo islets give shelter to around two-thirds of the breeding population of the species in the Azores (Monteiro et al. 1999). Placing artificial nests has resulted in an increase of around 35% in the population on Praia islet over the years. This has given rise to the largest breeding site for the species on the archipelago (Bolton et al. 2004, Bried et al. in press). Hot-season Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro (Monteiro's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma monteiroi): Praia and Baixo islets are the only places where breeding of this species has been demonstrated (Monteiro et al. 1999), a species recently described as endemic to the Azores, where it seems to occur every year (Bolton et al. 2008). Placing artificial nests has resulted in an increase in the population on Praia islet of 50%, making it the largest breeding site for this species in the world (Bried et al. in press). Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans: The only colony of Yellow-legged Gulls at Graciosa island is found on Baixo islet, with a population of 320 pairs in total (Neves e al. 2006a). Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii: The largest colony of Roseate Tern on the whole archipelago of the Azores is found on Praia islet, with a recorded maximum of 467 breeding pairs in 2006. On the main Island, the largest colony of this species is at Ponta da Barca, with around 29 breeding pairs, in spite of the fact that its use has been rather irregular through the years. Common Tern Sterna hirundo: the yearly monitoring survey carried out in 2007 (Neves 2007) estimated a total population in the area of the proposed IBA of 304 couples; Praia islet is the main colony of this species in the Azores. Other species observed in this IBA: Great Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Calonectris diomedea breeding  1996-2001  25,868 individuals  poor  A4ii, B1ii, C2  Not Recognised 
Puffinus assimilis breeding  1999  120-140 breeding pairs  medium  B1ii, C2  Not Recognised 
Band-rumped Storm-petrel Hydrobates castro breeding  1999  440-480 breeding pairs  good  A4ii, B1ii, C2  Least Concern 
Monteiro's Storm-petrel Hydrobates monteiroi breeding  2008  230-250 breeding pairs  good  A1  Vulnerable 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii breeding  2004-2008  140-467 breeding pairs  good  B1ii, C2  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1996-2001  26,000 individuals  poor  A4iii, C4   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Ilha Graciosa Natural Park 0 protected area contained by site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea Sea inlets and coastal features  100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military -
tourism/recreation -
fisheries/aquaculture -
nature conservation and research 28%
Notes: Ilhéu de Baixo - Restinga SCI (PTGRA015); Ponta Branca SCI (PTGRA016); Parque Natural da Ilha Graciosa; Full Reserve Area for Gathering Limpets; Biosphere Reserve;

Protection status Ilhéu de Baixo - Restinga SCI (PTGRA015); Resolution 30/98 of 5th February ratified by Declaration 12/98 of 7th May - 1% coincides with the IBA. Ponta Branca SCI (PTGRA016); Resolution 30/98 of 5th February raified by Declaration 12/98 of 7th May - 1% coincides with the IBA. Parque Natural da Ilha Graciosa; Regional Decree n.º 45/2008/A de 5 de Novembro - 3% coincides with IBA. Full Reserve Area for Gathering Limpets; Regional Regulation Decree nº 14/93/A of 31st July - 28% coincides with the IBA. Biosphere Reserve; SC-07/CONF.207/14 Paris, 22 Outubro 2007 – 17% coincides with IBA.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Graciosa. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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