Coastal MPA
Isla de los Estados
Isla de los Estados and Archipiélago de Año Nuevo Wildlife Reserve

Cover Photo © Pablo Petracci


The Isla de los Estados Provincial Reserve is located in the extreme south of Argentina, in the Province of Tierra del Fuego and South Atlantic Islands, separated from the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego by the Le Maire Strait, about 30 km wide. The body of the island is formed by a mountain range, which can be considered the southeastern end of the Fuegian mountain range. What is known as Isla de los Estados is a group integrated by Isla de los Estados itself, the Año Nuevo archipelago, and several smaller islands and islets that rise at a short distance. Observatory Island is the largest and highest of the islands of the Año Nuevo group, which is why it was the site chosen to erect a lighthouse at the beginning of the 20th century. Giant petrels, imperial cormorants and black-headed cormorants nest there. The rest of the Año Nuevo group is formed by Elizalde, Alférez Goffré and Zeballos Islands. The relief of Isla de los Estados, as well as the different small islands, is very varied, with irregular and rugged coasts that form abundant fjords, coves and bays. It is worth mentioning that it is the only place in Argentina where there are fjords.

Isla de los Estados and Le Maire Strait have been identified as relevant areas for the conservation of marine biodiversity and constitute the main breeding area of the southern yellow-plumed penguin, representing 26% of the world population of this subspecies. This area has been cited as an important seabird breeding site. The area is also home to colonies of diving petrels, Magellanic penguins, southern giant petrels, imperial and black-headed cormorants, South American terns, skuas, and black-browed albatrosses, among others.

Geographic Location


Tierra del Fuego


-54.77° Latitude S

-64.25° Longitude W

Size and Limits

Total Area:


Marine Area:


Continental Area:


Area estimated based on the calculation of the area of the polygon represented on the map (ArcGIS PRO) with an Albers Equivalent Conic projection to preserve area calculations.

Legal Aspects


Provincial with combined administration of the Province, Argentine Navy and National NPA

Year of Creation


Creation Legislation

Decree 929/2016

Photo © Santiago Imberti
Photo © Santiago Imberti

Eco-regions represented



Patagonian Forrests Ecoregion

Conservation Objectives

In relation to the area’s biodiversity, 177 species of vascular plants belonging to 52 families have been identified. This number represents 27% of the flora present in the Argentine portion of Tierra del Fuego, made up of 666 species and 89 families.

Both Isla de los Estados and the Estrecho de Le Maire are part of the relevant areas for conservation of marine biodiversity identified as vulnerable, and constitute the main breeding site of the Rockhopper Penguin, representing 26% of the world population of this subspecies. Therefore, this area has been defined as exceptional for the reproduction of marine birds. The presence of colonies of Diving Petrels, Magellanic Penguins, Southern Giant Petrels, Imperial and Magellanic Cormorants, South American Terns, Skuas, Black-Browed Albatross, among others, have been detected.

Isla Observatorio, the northernmost of the Año Nuevo islands, has a surface of 400 hectares and a much lower terrain, with tussac grasslands and peat bogs. There are nesting sites for Southern Giant Petrel, Imperial Cormorant and the Magellanic Cormorant. (

Conservation Values

1. Presence of breeding colonies, rookeries and feeding areas of birds and marine mammals with different conservation status, some of them threatened or vulnerable: Giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus), king goose (Chloephaga poliocephala), yellow-plumed penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), Patagonian penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), imperial cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), two-hair fur seal (Arctocephalus australis), one-hair fur seal (Otaria flavescens).
2. Presence of endemic species or species with a reduced distribution: cherry tree mouse (Abrothrix xanthorhinus llanoi), chungungo (Lontra felina) and huillín (Lontra provocax).
3. Peatlands and sub-Antarctic forests in a more oceanic situation.
4. Tussock grasslands (Poa flabellata).
5. Unique fjord landscape in Argentina that provides a high scenic value and represents a tourist attraction.
6. Sites of patrimonial importance due to the archeological records of the Yámana culture and the rich history of occupation, exploitation of wolves and penguins for oil production, and shipwrecks linked to the exploration of the southern seas and Antarctica. Among these sites are: San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse, Año Nuevo Lighthouse, remains of the Observatory Island Magnetic Observatory, Port Cook Presidio, Port Cook and San Juan de Salvamento Historic Cemeteries.
7. Situation of insularity and isolation.

Colonies and stopover sites

The following table presents the colonies or stopover sites of some emblematic species of birds and marine mammals present within the MPA boundaries.


Year of Management Plan approval


Management effectiveness and evaluation year

50 % – METT Evaluation (2014)

Sources of information consulted:
Biodiversity Information System (
Management Plan (2017)

Bird and marine mammal colonies: See Bibliography