Visitor Management Plan: Cooper Bay

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(For the Visitor Management Plan disclaimer, copyright and funding click here.)

Download the pdf booklet version of this page here. This is best suited for two-sided printing. Note, for a duplex printer, you need to print using 'short edge binding.'

Cooper Bay Macaroni Colony
Cooper Bay Macaroni Colony
(Click photo to enlarge)
(Click photo to enlarge)


(Sketch Map. Not for navigation purposes). Download large size jpg of map  here.
(Sketch Map. Not for navigation purposes). Download large size jpg of map here.

Latitude: 54˚46.8`S

Longitude: 35˚48.4’W

(Northeastern shore of Cooper Bay)

Key Features

  • Macaroni penguins
  • Fur seals


  • Topography:
The northeastern shore of Cooper Bay consists of low cliffs of tightly folded sedimentary rock and wave-cut platforms with a series of cobbled beaches indenting the bay and providing access via steep scree slopes to the higher ground. Slopes are vegetated to approximately 200m altitude. Above this, scree slopes, lichen-covered boulder fields and bare rock dominate.

  • Fauna:
Confirmed breeders: gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus), light-mantled sooty albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata), southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), white-chinned petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis), Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), snowy sheathbill (Chionis alba), kelp gull (Larus dominicanus), brown skua (Catharacta lonnbergi), South Georgia pintail (Anas georgica georgica), South Georgia pipit (Anthus antarcticus), Antarctic tern (Sterna vittate georgiae), elephant seal (Mirounga leonina)and fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella).
Introduced land mammals: Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus)

  • Flora:
Predominantly tussac interspersed with sparse lowland fellfield. Rock outcrops and upper scree slopes support extensive lichen communities. Dense tussac is interspersed with deep mud pools at the edge of macaroni colony.

  • Other:
Extensive kelp beds, hazardous rocks and reefs lie immediately off shore.

Visitor Impacts

  • Known impacts:
Track starting to form on scree slope behind primary landing beach.

  • Potential Impacts:
Disturbance of wildlife and track formation.

Landing Requirements

  • Ships: *
Ships carrying 200 or fewer passengers. One ship at a time.
Maximum 2 ships per day (midnight to midnight).

  • Visitors:
No more than 80 visitors ashore at any time, exclusive of expedition guides and leaders. 1 experienced guide per 20 visitors. No more than 20 visitors plus guide at a time at each of the recommended macaroni colony viewing points.
Note that it may not be possible to land at certain times due to heavy concentrations of wildlife.

∗ A ship is defined as a vessel which carries more than 12 passengers.

Visitor Areas

  • Landing Area:
Primary: Small beach immediately to the east of ‘Albatross Cove’, identifiable by rectangular rock stack which almost divides the beach at its western end.
Secondary: ‘Albatross Cove’ situated to the west of the primary landing beach.

  • Closed Areas:
Closed Area A: macaroni colony including penguins’ access routes to sea and the beach directly below the main colony and a 10m buffer zone around the colony perimeter. Where visitors are likely to come close to the edge of the Closed Area, the 10m buffer zone should be marked with flags.

  • Guided Walking Areas:
A single, flagged route should be followed from the landing beach directly up the scree slope to the un-vegetated area at the top of the initial slope (at approximately the same elevation as the macaroni colony) to avoid the formation of multiple paths.
A single flagged route through the tussac towards recommended macaroni colony viewing points should be followed to avoid straying into the colony and penguin paths. The recommended viewing areas are to the west and the north of the colony and are identified on the map.
Hikes in the tussac above the macaroni colony or out towards the gentoo penguin colony should be closely guided to avoid nesting birds.

  • Free Roaming Areas:
The un-vegetated area at the top of the initial slope up from the beach to the west of the macaroni colony before entering the tussac area.
Wildlife concentrations permitting, the two landing beach areas.

Visitor Code of Conduct

  • Behaviour Ashore:
Walk slowly and carefully. Maintain a precautionary distance from wildlife and give animals the right-of-way. Increase your distance if any change in behaviour is observed.
Be alert to nesting gentoos, skuas and giant petrels in the tussac to the north and east of the macaroni colony. Be alert to fur seals hidden in the tussac.
Visits to the macaroni colony should be closely supervised and in distinct well-managed groups.

  • Cautionary Notes:
This is a primary fur seal breeding area. Landings may be impossible during the peak fur seal breeding season.
In some seasons, and at certain periods of the year, gentoo penguins can occupy the primary landing beach and adjacent scree slope preventing access.
The bay is prone to sudden, strong katabatic winds and ocean swells from the SSW and east.
Minimise use of ship lights at nightfall to reduce risk of bird strikes.

  • Biosecurity:
All landings must comply with GSGSSI biosecurity measures and self-audit checks must be carried out prior to landing.

Visitors in viewing area
Visitors in viewing area
  • © Copyright GSGSSI 2013. (Click here to read GSGSSI Disclaimer)