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LTMS at Signy Island

The South Orkney Islands are an isolated archipelago on the south Scotia Ridge situated 500 km north-east of the Antarctic Peninsula; Signy Island is in the southwest of the South Orkney archipelago.

The Signy coastline is dominated by sea cliffs, rocks and boulders, these provide nesting habitats for thousands of seabirds including cape petrels, snow petrels and blue-eyed shags. There are also an estimated 16,000 pairs of Adélie penguins, 20,000 pairs of chinstrap penguins and 750 pairs of gentoo penguin that breed on the island. The penguin colonies are favoured sites for the snowy sheathbill. In the interior of the island, most of the snow and ice-free areas consist of boulder fields, scree slopes, moraines and lakes. This is a harsh, fellfield environment devoid of higher vegetation but rich in lichens and inhabited by breeding Antarctic prions, Wilson’s storm petrels, subantarctic skuas and Antarctic terns. Along the west coast of Signy there are luxuriant moss banks, and melt water streams form pools among the rocky outcrops; here over 1000 breeding pairs of southern giant petrel form loosely scattered colonies.

Signy Research Station, Latitude 6043' S, Longitude 4536' W, Factory Cove, Borge Bay, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands.
This image is associated with the 2005-2010 BAS science programme: DISCOVERY 2010- Integrating Southern Ocean Ecosystems into the Earth System
Signy Research Station, Latitude 60°043′S, Longitude 45°036′W, Factory Cove, Borge Bay, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands.

During late summer the beaches and adjacent low-lying areas are occupied by up to 20,000 non-breeding Antarctic fur seals. Other visiting seals include weddell, leopard and crabeater seals, and up to 600 southern elephant seals are in residence for much of the year and breed in small numbers.

Biologists at the BAS research station located on Signy Island monitor the breeding populations of Adélie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, giant petrels, shags and Antarctic fur seals, providing data to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Adélie penguins, chinstrap penguins and gentoo penguins.