Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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50o 45.17' East 25o 39.46' North
A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
0 - 28m
Year of IBA assessment
Bahrain Natural History Society (Affiliate)
Site description A group of 16 small, limestone, desert islands and islets in the Gulf of Salwah, some with cliffs up to 20-30 m high. There is c.20% vegetation cover of saltmarsh bushes, and very extensive seagrass beds in the shallow, clear sea offshore. A highly productive nursery and feeding area for fish. The islands are uninhabited apart from a military garrison.
Key Biodiversity The islands support the largest known breeding concentration in the world of Phalacrocorax nigrogularis. The main breeding site is on Suwad al Janubiyah island, where 200,000 to 300,000 adults were conservatively estimated to be present in November 1992, along with thousands of nests with eggs. Other breeding species include Sterna caspia (max. 10 pairs), S. anaethetus (max. 100 pairs) and Pandion haliaetus (max. 9 pairs). Wintering species include Podiceps cristatus (min. 50) and Phoenicopterus ruber (750).
Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals: the second largest population in the world of Dugong dugon (V) occurs here (700+); unspecified Gazella spp. on Hawar island (apparently introduced). Reptiles: the sea-turtles Chelonia mydas (E), Eretmochelys imbricata (E), Dermochelys coriacea (E) and Caretta caretta (V) occur, and Chelonia mydas may breed.
Notes: A military base was established in Hawar Islands in 1984. During the last years, however, military activities have continue to show steady decline.
Notes: Fishing with nets and any destructive gear is legally prohibited around Hawar Islands. Artisanal fishing with hook and line is often practiced.
Notes: Situated along the western coastline of the main island (Hawar) are a resort hotel and around 100 chalets. Tourist activities peak during the period from May to November. It is estimated that around 23,500 tourists (85% are Bahraini) visit Hawar Islands annually. In addition to bus tours organized to selected terrestrial sites, recreational activities include swimming, surfing and jetting. Almost all these activities are restricted to the main island (Hawar). Opportunistic boat trips (principally for bird watchers) are occasionally organized.
Notes: Most of the landmass of Hawar Islands has been preserved in a pristine condition with no evidence of current human activities. Fortunately, most of present human uses are confined to the main Island (Hawar) which is not very important for birds.
Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr S. A. Mohamed and E. Hirschfeld, reviewed by Dr K. Fakhro.
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BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hawar Islands. Downloaded from
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