Bowen Island (Jervis Bay)

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Little penguins

Bowen Island is a sandstone island lying 250 metres (270 yd) off the tip of the Bherwerre Peninsula at the entrance to Jervis Bay, on the coast of New South Wales, Australia. The island, however, is not part of the state of New South Wales but of the Jervis Bay Territory, administered by Australia's federal government. It lies within the Booderee National Park.[1]


The island is tear-shaped, about 1.1 kilometres (1,200 yd) long north to south, and 600 metres (660 yd) wide. It slopes sharply from the cliffs on its eastern, or oceanic, side down to rock platforms at sea level on its west. Much of it is covered by windblown sand supporting, and stabilised by, various vegetation communities.[1] The island was named after Lieutenant Richard Bowen RN. Another Bowen Island, in Canada, is named after Richard's eldest brother Rear-Admiral James Bowen RN.


The island, with the waters on its western side, constitutes a special purpose zone intended to protect nesting seabirds and their habitat from disturbance, and is not open to general public access.[1] Birds nesting on the island include sooty oystercatchers and three species of shearwater (little, wedge-tailed and short-tailed).

Little penguin colony[edit]

Bowen Island is home to an important little penguin colony, with some 5000 breeding pairs.[2] The population has increased from 1000 breeding pairs in 1979,[3] to 1500 breeding pairs in 1985[4] and 2500 breeding pairs in 1993.[5] In 2012, just over 50 individuals were marked as part of a little penguin research project. DNA samples were also collected and some birds were micro-chipped.[6] The Bowen Island colony was revisited several times in 2013 with results to be published in a forthcoming PhD thesis.[7]

A description of the island from 1948 warned 'one is apt to trip over penguins if he wanders around at night.'[8] Penguins were known to inhabit the island since at least 1908, when they were described as being present in large numbers.[9]

Panorama of Jervis Bay with Bowen Island in the central background


  1. ^ a b c Booderee National Park Board of Management and the Director of National Parks (2002). Booderee National Park Management Plan (PDF). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. ISBN 0 642 54825 0. 
  2. ^ "Little Penguin". Booderee National Park: Birdwatching. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Australia. 23 May 2012. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "What future for the penguins of Bowen Island?". The Canberra Times. Canberra, Australia. 25 November 1979. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Susskind, Anne (3 November 1985). "The Struggle for Bowen Island". The Canberra Times. Canberra, Australia. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Lang, Rebecca (15 February 1993). "Algae threatens Bowen Island penguins". The Canberra Times. Canberra, Australia. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "A weekend on Bowen Island". Little Penguin research. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Penguin project in the making". Little penguin research. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "Island Resort". Goulburn Evening Post. 3 March 1948. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Jervis Bay. A Fisherman's Paradise". The Muswellbrook Chronicle. 25 July 1908. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 

Coordinates: 35°07′06″S 150°46′07″E / 35.11833°S 150.76861°E / -35.11833; 150.76861