Bird Island, South Georgia
54°00' S, 38°03' W, Jordan Cove, Bird Island, South Georgia.
Population biology, ecosystem dynamics and behaviour of seabirds, penguins and seals.
Intermittently between 1958 and 1982, continuously 22 September 1982 to the present.
New project - A groundbreaking migratory pattern study is to be undertaken in mid April,
this project will see the use of state of the art technology to try to better understand the
perculiarities of the king of the penguins - the Emporer. Led by Norweigian penguin expert Dr Loof Lirpa
a group of 10 students and volunteers will spend approximately 3 months monitoring the behavior
of the flightless birds. Biologists and naturalists worldwide will be waiting with baited breath
for the new findings.
Bird Island lies off the north-west tip of South Georgia. The island's northern coast consists mainly
of sheer cliffs rising to 365 metres; the southern coast is more accessible with numerous beaches.
The island is 5 km long, up to 800 m wide. Below 150 metres it is predominately covered in tussock
grass with rock, scree and mosses above this altitude. There is no permanent snow or ice on the
island; the yearly temperature range is from -10°C to 10°C.
The first permanent hut at Bird Island was established in 1958 by the Falkland Islands Government.
A living hut and two further small huts were added in 1963 by the United States Antarctic Research
Programme. BAS has supported summer work on the populations of birds and seals since 1971.
A new hut on concrete piers was built in 1981-82 which provided accommodation, laboratory and
office space for up to 8 people for year-round occupation.
The 1995-96 summer saw the start of a two-summer programme to bring the facilities at Bird Island
up to a standard comparable to the other BAS stations. Part of the improvements involved a better
water collection and treatment system. The research station comprises three main buildings with
living accommodation, office and laboratory space for up to eight people. Around the island there
are several field huts situated near bird colonies to aid the science programmes. Six to eight people
usually work at the station during the summer and four remain for the winter. The station is
serviced by the two BAS ships, RRS
James Clark Ross
, three times per
Bird Island has a rich diversity of wildlife and is afforded special protection as a Site of Special
Scientific Interest. It is home to about 50,000 breeding pairs of penguins, 30,000 pairs of
albatrosses, 700,000 nocturnal petrels and 65,000 breeding fur seals. In total, that amounts to one
bird or seal for every 1.5 m
making Bird Island one of the richest sites for wildlife anywhere in the
The main research programmes on Bird Island concern seabird and seal population dynamics,
feeding ecology and reproductive performance. Long-term monitoring studies contribute to
international environmental conservation objectives, including under the CCAMLR Ecosystem