email a friend
printable version
Location Namibia, Karas
Central coordinates 15o 7.00' East  26o 37.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 80 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Site description The Lüderitz Bay island complex consists of four coastal islands, all situated within one kilometre of the shore. The rocky shoreline, including Lüderitz fishing harbour, is included within the IBA. Halifax Island (3 ha) is located at the south end of Guano Bay near Diaz Point, a promontory at the western entrance of Lüderitz Bay, and one of the first landfalls of Portuguese explorers in the 1400s. The whole area lies within the intense upwelling cell off the Lüderitz coastline, creating a node of high marine productivity resulting in large congregations of seabirds. The other three islands, Penguin (36 ha), Seal (44 ha) and Flamingo, lie to the east of Halifax, within Lüderitz Bay. The islands hold some abandoned guano-scrapers’ buildings. They support no vegetation other than subtidal kelp and other seaweed on their shores.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The island complex regularly supports over 10,000 seabirds. Halifax Island is an important coastal seabird breeding island; it supports over 2,000 breeding seabirds, including important numbers of breeding Spheniscus demersus (c.400 pairs), Sterna bergii and Phalacrocorax coronatus. Penguin and Seal islands are utilized mostly for roosting, but Phalacrocorax coronatus, P. neglectus, P. capensis (2,000 pairs) and P. carbo (20 pairs) all breed on Penguin Island. The latter also holds large numbers of Haematopus moquini (possibly 20% of the world population), which probably breed, and roosting Sterna balaenarum. Seal Island is important for Phalacrocorax coronatus, as it holds some 3% of the world population. It also holds many pairs of Larus dominicanus, which occasionally depredate cormorant eggs when the latter are disturbed.

On the adjacent mainland, the harbour supports dense nesting populations of Larus hartlaubii and Sterna bergii. In 1994, at least 2,470 pairs of S. bergii (40% of the southern African population) nested successfully there and on the rocky promontory called Shark Island. The shoreline is completely rocky and the Lüderitz peninsula, excluding the islands, holds about 14,000 shorebirds. At 30 birds/km it is locally dense, but supports a lower linear density than shores farther north in central Namibia.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among the cetaceans that occur, Cephalorhynchus heavisidii (DD), Lagenorhynchos obscurus (DD) and Tursiops truncatus (DD) are frequently seen, while Megaptera novaeangliae (VU) and Eubalaena australis (LR/cd) are rarer.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
African Penguin Spheniscus demersus resident  400 breeding pairs  A1  Endangered 
Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus resident  60 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus winter  200 individuals  A1, A4i  Endangered 
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus resident  50-160 breeding pairs  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Crowned Cormorant Microcarbo coronatus winter  160-350 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
African Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini winter  200-400 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus breeding  500-800 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus winter  1,200-2,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Hartlaub's Gull Larus hartlaubii breeding  200-400 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Hartlaub's Gull Larus hartlaubii winter  1,500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii breeding  800-2,470 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii winter  6,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds resident  10,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Namibia Islands Marine Protected Area 955,525 protected area contains site 80  

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
other -
Notes: Guano harvesting.

References Berry et al. (1974), Cooper et al. (1990), Crawford et al. (1989, 1999), Hockey (1982), Noli-Peard and Williams (1991), Pallet (1995), Simmons and Roux (in press), Swart (1988).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lüderitz Bay islands. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife