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Location Bouvet Island (to Norway), Bouvet Island
Central coordinates 3o 20.00' East  54o 25.00' South
IBA criteria A4ii, A4iii
Area 5,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 780m
Year of IBA assessment 2012

Site description Bouvetøya rises to 780 m a.s.l. (Olavtoppen) and is bounded by steep slopes on the northern, western and south-western sides, with narrow beaches. Permanent ice covers 93% of the island, leaving only a few ice-free areas along the coast. The largest such area is Nyrøysa, which was formed between 1955 and 1958, probably by a large landslide. The Nyrøysa platform is c.700 m long with an average height of between 25 and 40 m. The surface is irregular, consisting of jumbled boulders, lava blocks and gravel. Inland, the platform is bounded by scree slopes created by rockfalls from the high (c.150 to 350 m) cliffs and, at the southern and northern ends, by the shingle-beaches of Westwindstranda. Abrasion by the action of the sea on the seaward cliff of Nyrøysa above Westwindstranda is pronounced and ongoing, with an estimated 50-100 m lost from 1966-1979, and 6-9 m disappearing in places from 1996-1997 to 1998-1999. All recent research expeditions to Bouvetøya have been based at Nyrøysa, since it is the most accessible part of the island and supports breeding populations of seabirds and seals.The vegetation of Bouvetøya is entirely non-vascular, and consists of ascomycete fungi and lichens, and mosses and liverworts (Bryophyta). Algae are also represented. Engelskjøn (1981) classified the vegetation of Bouvetøya into 20 communities, including those of snow algae on glaciers and two of marine algae in the littoral zone. It is of typical maritime Antarctic composition and structure, and bears phytogeographical affinities with the vegetation of more westerly peri-Antarctic archipelagos such as the South Sandwich and South Shetland Islands. Owing to the extensive ice-covering of Bouvetøya, vegetation is largely restricted to the coastal cliffs, capes and boulderine beaches, and the few ice-free nunatak ridges and sections of summit plateau. However, most ice-free areas are so steep and exposed to avalanches that only crustose lichen and algal formations are able to persist. Five species of moss, five lichens, one fungus and 20 algae have been recorded at Nyrøysa. Here, the manuring from seabirds and seals promotes development of algal Prasiola and Ulothrix communities but, where trampling from penguins and seals occurs, no macro-vegetation is able to exist.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black-bellied Storm-petrel Fregetta tropica breeding  1998  1,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides breeding  1999  min 50,000 breeding pairs  A4ii  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds breeding  1977-1999  73,000 breeding pairs  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Bouvetoya Nature Reserve 5,800 protected area contains site 5,000  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research -
not utilised -

Other biodiversity No recognized globally threatened or endemic animal taxa occur at Bouvetøya, but at least three endemic ascomycete fungus species have been recorded, as have three lichen species, including an endemic genus Bouvetiella. Other plant and invertebrate species are restricted to a few other Antarctic sites (e.g. South Georgia, South Orkney Islands) and thus can be considered near-endemics. Breeding by the seal Mirounga leonina at Bouvetøya was reconfirmed in 1998-1999 for the first time in many years; 88 weaned pups were counted at Nyrøysa in December 1998. In January 1999 there were an estimated 13,010 live pups of the seal Arctocephalus gazella at Nyrøysa. The whale Megaptera novaeangliae (VU) was frequently sighted from Nyrøysa in the summers of 1996-1997 and 1998-1999, and Orcinus orca (LR/cd) has been recorded previously.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bouvetøya (Bouvet Island). Downloaded from on 26/10/2014

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