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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Hormozgan
Central coordinates 53o 24.00' East  26o 48.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3
Area 160 ha
Altitude 0 - 6m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description A small island c.2 km due east of the eastern tip of Lavan island and c.9 km off the mainland coast in the central Persian Gulf. The island is relatively flat (maximum elevation c.6 m), composed of a coral conglomerate covered by dunes and sandy soils. There are no springs or surface water. Rainfall is very low, and the summer temperatures frequently exceed 40°C. Along the southern, western and north-west shores the rock is exposed as cliffs up to c.2 m high. In the south-east corner the rocks form a jumbled heap of boulders just above high water. The remainder of the shoreline is a narrow sand beach which widens at the north-east corner to form a sandy promontory. There are two main areas of sparsely vegetated dunes, stretching across the north and south of the island. The flat area across the centre of the island is densely clad with arid steppic vegetation dominated by Atriplex, in places forming an impenetrable shrub layer up to 60 cm high. Land ownership is public. The island is uninhabited, although a ruined building indicates former occupation.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. The island supports the largest known colony of terns in Iran, believed to contain c.300,000 pairs of Sterna repressa and 3,000-5,000 pairs of S. anaethetus in 1972, along with much smaller numbers of S. bergii and S. bengalensis. However, by 1976 and 1977, S. repressa had declined dramatically to only 25,000-50,000 pairs, almost certainly due to massive egg-collecting by the Lavan islanders. There is a colony of Egretta gularis (8-12 pairs) as well as 3-4 pairs of Butorides striatus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: the island is a very important nesting site for sea-turtles, mainly Chelonia mydas (E), with smaller numbers of Eretmochelys imbricata (E) and possibly one other species. A small poisonous snake (Viperidae) is abundant and has given the island its alternative name of Maru (Snake) Island.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis breeding  1972-1977  50-100 breeding pairs  good  A1, B2  Vulnerable 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1972-1977  25,000-300,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1972-1977  3,000-5,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1972-1977  28,000-305,000 breeding pairs  good  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sheedvar Island Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 870 protected area contained by site 98  
Shidvar Wildlife Refuge 98 protected area contained by site 98  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   major
Coastline   major
Desert   minor

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
other major
Notes: Exploitation of seabirds: egg-collecting for human consumption was a major acrtivity in the 1970s.

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Argyle (1976a), Cornwallis (1977), Gallagher et al. (1984), Scott (1972b, 1975b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sheedvar island. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

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