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Location Antarctica
Central coordinates 45o 0.00' West  60o 44.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4ii, A4iii
Area 2,688 ha
Altitude 0 - 375m
Year of IBA assessment 2011





Site description Southern Powell Island is located 7 km east of the southwestern extremity of Coronation Island, between Lewthwaite Strait and Washington Strait, South Orkney Islands. The boundary of the IBA follows the boundary of Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 111, comprising part of Powell Island to the south of John Peaks (375 m) and including Chistoffersen Island, Fredriksen Island, Michelsen Island, Grey Island and neighbouring unnamed islands lying offshore. Much of the land area at this site is ice-free in summer, but a few permanently ice-covered areas are present on southern Powell Island.

Vegetation at the site includes moss banks around Falkland Harbour (southern Powell Island), Christoffersen Island and northern Fredriksen Island, and extensive cover of the algae Prasiola crispa, associated with penguins breeding in the area (ASPA No. 111 Management Plan, 1995). Snow algae also grow on glaciated areas and snow patches around the site.

The nearest research station is Orcadas (Argentina), which lies ~17 km to the southeast on Laurie Island and operates year-round with accommodation for ~45 people in summer and a winter complement of ~14 people (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 01/09/2010). See Ant091 for information on meteorological records and facilities at Signy Station (UK), located 35 km to the west.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua breeding  1983  8,000 breeding pairs  A1, A4ii  Near Threatened 
Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus breeding  1982-1983  613 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Phalacrocorax atriceps breeding  1988  144 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
A4iii Species group - seabirds A4iii   

Other biodiversity Antarctic Fur Seal (Arctocephalus gazella) breed on Michelsen Island, with 34 pups recorded on the island in 1994, indicating an upward trend in the breeding population since the 1950’s (ASPA No. 111 Management Plan, 1995). Non-breeding mammals observed at the site include Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina), Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes weddellii) and occasionally Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) and Crabeater Seal (Lobodon carcinophagus) (ibid.).

Protection status ASPA No.111

References ASPA No.111 Southern Powell Island, South Orkney Islands: Management Plan (1994).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Southern Powell Island and adjacent islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/08/2014

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