|Central coordinates||59o 55.00' West 62o 35.00' South|
|Altitude||0 - 250m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2011|
Ornithological information Approximately 2000 pairs of Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) are breeding on Half Moon Island (H. Lynch, pers. comm., 2010). South Polar Skua (Catharacta maccormicki) breed at several locations on the island, mostly in the north, with 103 pairs recorded in the 1995-96 (Garcia Esponda et al. 2000). Antarctic terns (Sterna vittata) nest in rocky outcrops and 125 breeding pairs were recorded in 1995-96 season, along with 39 pairs of Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) (Garcia Esponda et al. 2000). Wilson’s Storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus) also breed at the site, with 377 pairs in 1995-96. Other birds breeding in low numbers include the Imperial Shag (Phalacrocorax atriceps), Greater Sheathbill (Chionis alba), Cape Petrel (Daption capense), Brown Skua (Catharacta lonnbergi) and Black-bellied Storm-petrel (Fregetta tropica) (Garcia Esponda et al. 2000).
Site description Half Moon Island is a crescent-shaped rocky island of igneous origin lying in Moon Bay, 2 km north of Livingston Island on the south side of McFarlane Strait in the South Shetland Islands. Raised cobble beaches line the south and central shorelines, while steep scree slopes lead to a low summit at the north of the island. East-facing slopes are typically snow-covered. The IBA comprises the entire island.
Several moss and lichen species and the native Antarctic Hairgrass Deschampsia antarctica are found on Half Moon Island (ATS Visitor Site Guide, Half Moon Island, accessed 06/08/2010).
Cámara Station (Argentina), a summer-only station with capacity for ~36 people, is located at the foot of a small summit in the southern part of Half Moon Island (COMNAP, Antarctic Facilities, accessed 24/08/2010).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki||breeding||1995||103 breeding pairs||-||A4ii||Least Concern|
Other biodiversity Weddell Seals (Leptonychotes weddellii) and Antarctic Fur Seals (Arctocephalus gazella) regularly haul out on Half Moon Island beaches (ATS Visitor Site Guide, Half Moon Island, accessed 06/08/2010). Southern Elephant Seals (Mirounga leonina) have also been observed at the site (Naveen 2003).
Protection status None
Conservation response The location of Cámara Station within the IBA suggests that operational and support activities need to be carried out with a high level of awareness of the conservation importance of the site. In addition, Half Moon Island is one of the most popular tourst destinations in the Antarctic Peninsula region, with 9760 tourists landing ashore in the 2009-10 season (IAATO Tourism Statistics, accessed: 06/08/2010). There is evidence of track erosion and trampling of vegetation at the site and a concern that visitors may potentially cause disturbance to wildlife and damage to breeding burrows (ATS Visitor Site Guide, Half Moon Island, accessed: 06/08/2010). Tourist visits to the island are managed by guidelines adopted in the Antarctic Treaty Visitor Site Guide for Half Moon Island, and are supervised by expedition staff and station personnel. Given the level of visits occurring and the ongoing operations of the station it is important that potential impacts on birdlife at this IBA are regularly monitored, and management actions taken should significant impacts be observed.
References Antarctic Treaty System Visitor Site Guide: Half Moon Island. URL: http://www.ats.aq/siteguidelines/documents/Half_moon_e.pdf. Accessed: 06/08/2010.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Half Moon Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013
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