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Location Antarctica
Central coordinates 61o 1.66' West  64o 10.26' South
IBA criteria A4ii
Area 5,903 ha
Altitude 0 - 750m
Year of IBA assessment 2015

Site description Cierva Point (64°09' S, 60°57' W) lies on the Danco Coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, 50 km east of Brabant Island, and forms the southern entrance to Cierva Cove. The IBA is defined by the same boundary of Antarctic Specially Protected Area No. 134, which includes Cierva Point, Sterneck Island, Midas Island, Moss Islands and surrounding offshore islands. The intervening marine area and intertidal zone is included in the IBA.

South-facing slopes at Cierva Point are largely glaciated and uninhabitable, whilst the north- and west-facing slopes comprise ice-free scree slopes, rock terraces and gullies. The terrain rises to a height of over 500 m on coastal cliffs. Coastal vegetation is extensive and includes lichens, mosses and grasses, including the two native flowering species Antarctic hairgrass Deschampsia antarctica and the pearlwort Colobanthus quitensis. Peat in moss-covered areas reaches ~80 cm in thickness and cover areas of more than 1 ha (Rau et al. 2000). Cyanobacteria and diatoms dominate mineral soils and terrestrial arthropods and non-marine microalgae are abundant in the region.

No long-term weather data for the site are available. However, Quintana (2001) recorded weather at Cierva Point during the summer of 1992 – 1993 and found conditions were moderate compared to more northerly Antarctic locations. Mean monthly temperatures over the summer ranged from 1.8°C to 2.2°C whilst relative humidity was 79 % on average. Mean wind speed was 7.9 kmh-1.

Primavera Station (Argentina) is situated ~500 m from the IBA boundary on the northern tip of Cierva Point and is accompanied by. The permanent summer only station has capacity for ~18 people and is serviced by ship and a helicopter landing site (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 09/08/2010).

Key Biodiversity At least 12 bird species breed within the IBA, with Chinstrap (Pygoscelis antarctica) and Gentoo (P. papua) penguins, Wilson’s Storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) and Kelp Gulls (Larus dominicanus) the most abundant of species present (ASPA No. 134 Management Plan, 2006).

Quintana et al. (2000) documented 93 breeding pairs South Polar Skua at Cierva Point in 1995, whilst an estimated estimated 475 pairs of Skua (predominantly Catharacta maccormicki) are thought to breed over the entire IBA (ASPA No. 134 Management Plan, 2006). Poncet & Poncet (unpublished data) recorded 70 pairs of Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps) breeding on Midas Island in 1987. In the late 1980s, 135 breeding pairs of Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteusi) were recorded in the area, nesting on both Moss and Sterneck islands (Patterson et al. 2008). In 1987, around 3100 Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) were recorded breeding on Sterneck and Midas Islands, and 450 Gentoo Penguin (P. papua) nests were counted on Sterneck Island (Poncet & Poncet 1987). A further 1041 pairs Gentoo Penguin were recorded in 1995-96, nesting on snow-free areas of a north-west facing hillside at Cierva Point (Quintana et al. 2000). These authors reported the breeding birds at Cierva Point include 1168 pairs Wilson’s Storm-petrel, 62 pairs Kelp Gull, 24 pairs Antarctic Tern (Sterna vittata), seven pairs Cape Petrel (Daption capense), four pairs Greater Sheathbill (Chionis alba) and one pair Snow Petrel (Pagodroma nivea).

Penguin, shag and Southern Giant Petrel colonies may have since decreased in size: the ASPA No. 134 Management Plan (2006) noted 2050 pairs Chinstraps and 1500 pairs Gentoos breed across the entire IBA, along with around 45 pairs of Southern Giant Petrel and around 30 pairs of Imperial Shag. The Management Plan further noted that 2300 pairs Wilson’s Storm-petrel breed in the area, along with more than 100 pairs Antarctic Tern, 375 pairs Kelp Gull and more than 50 pairs Cape Petrel.

Non-bird biodiversity: None reported, although it is anticipated that various species of marine mammal such as seals and whales are likely to be found in the vicinity.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki breeding  2005  475 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cierva Point Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) 5,180 protected area contained by site 5,180  

Protection status ASPA No. 134

References ASPA No. 134 Cierva Point and offshore islands, Danco Coast: Management Plan (2006)

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

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