email a friend
printable version
Location Jamaica, Kingston Parish
Central coordinates 75o 59.00' West  17o 24.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B4i
Area 15,223 ha
Altitude 0 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description This is an offshore island group 51km SSE of Morant Point, Jamaica. The group consists of four small islets grouped closely together on the summit of a comparatively extensive crescent-shaped bank of coral, over 7km long, rising from 1000m, The cays are low-lying, and fronted by highly exposed reefs over which the sea constantly breaks. They have sparse vegetation and are a seabird rookery and turtle nesting area. Northeast Cay is sometimes divided into three parts, the sea washing over connecting sand spits. There is a lighthouse at Breezy Point, the easternmost point of the cay and of Jamaica.

Key Biodiversity Seabird nesting site: Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus, Brown Noddy Anous stolidus, Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus, Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus, Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens, Laughing Gull Larus atricilla, and Brown Pelican Pelcanus occidentalis. Also used as a stopover site by migratory species.

Non-bird biodiversity: Marine turtle nesting site. Plant species include: Sesuvium portulacastrum, Opuntia tuna, Sporobolus virginicus, Suriana maritime, among others.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus resident  1997  30-60 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  2007  1,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus resident  1997  70,000-90,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus breeding  2006  4,500 individuals  medium  B4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1997  50,000-99,999 breeding pairs  medium  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Middle Morant Cay NR/SciR Nature Reserve 0 protected area contained by site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
hunting minor
Notes: Used as nesting area for some Sea birds. Of little economic importance but sea-eggs and guano collected at times.
fisheries/aquaculture major
Notes: Utilised as an off-shore fishing area by fishermen.
nature conservation and research major
Notes: Protected under Morant and Pedro Cays Act (27th April, 1907)

Further web sources of information 

Site profile from Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008)

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Morant Cays and Bank. Downloaded from on 29/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife