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Bowen Island (Jervis Bay) facts for kids

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Eudyptula minor family exiting burrow
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.


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. 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. Birds nesting on the island include sooty oystercatchers and three species of shearwater (little, wedge-tailed and short-tailed).

Little penguin colony

Bowen Island is home to an important little penguin colony, with some 5000 breeding pairs. The population has increased from 1000 breeding pairs in 1979, to 1500 breeding pairs in 1985 and 2500 breeding pairs in 1993. 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. The Bowen Island colony was revisited several times in 2013 with results to be published in a forthcoming PhD thesis.

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

RAN Jervis Bay
Panorama of Jervis Bay with Bowen Island in the central background
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