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Location Jamaica, Kingston Parish
Central coordinates 78o 33.00' West  17o 8.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4ii, B4i
Area 23,346 ha
Altitude 2 - 5m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description The Pedro Cays, lying in the Caribbean sea between 16 o 57’ & 17o03' N and 77 o 46' & 77 o51' W, constitute a group of small isolated coralline islands emerging from the southeastern edge of the Pedro Banks. The group consists of four Cays: Northeast Cay, Middle Cay, Southwest Cay and South Cay, and is associated with a number of shallow reefs, rocks and shoals. The group is situated about 97 km southwest of Portland Point on the south coast of Jamaica, the distance from Kingston being about 161 km. All cays are owned by the Government of Jamaica. Fishermen occupy Northeast and Middle Cays. Both regionally and nationally the Pedro Bank is an important commercial, biological and historical area. It represents Jamaica's main commercial and artisanal fishing grounds and serves as the primary harvesting area for the largest export of Queen Conch from the Caribbean region.

Key Biodiversity The Pedro Cays are regionally important seabird nesting and roosting areas. Nesting birds (Southwest Cay Feb. 19981): Magnificent Frigatebirds Fregata magnificens, Brown Boobies Sula leucogaster (approx. 2,000 nests observed, 32% with chicks, 14% with eggs) and Masked Boobies S. dactylatra (approx. 240 nests observed). Other birds: Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus; Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum and American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla. Probably used by other winter migrants as a stopover. On other cays: Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata, Brown Noddy Anous stolidus and Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii (Raffaele 1998: “threatened”).

Non-bird biodiversity: The bank is composed of a variety of marine habitats such as sand, coral reefs, deep reefs, sea grass beds, and coral cays. Because of its size and distance from mainland Jamaica and its relatively intact biological systems, it is one of the country's last remaining healthy marine ecosystems. Southwest Cay is the largest cay, with a topography that is generally flat with a slight depression in the central to south central sections. Most of the coast is calcareous sand grading into gravel or hurricane boulder beach. The vegetation is dominated by the bush shrub, Seaside Lavender Mallotonia gnophalodes, the tufted grass-like Cyperus sp., Pussley Portulaca oleracea and a Sporobulus species of grass. Additionally there are isolated clumps of Scarlet Cordia Cordia sebestena. Also present are mice (Mus musculus), Ghost Crabs (Ocypode sp.) and Hermit Crabs (Coenobita clypeatus). Pedro Bank is important for conch fishing. Several endangered turtle species such as hawksbills and loggerheads nest there. The bank may also be a potential refuge and source of larvae for several regionally-threatened Acropora coral species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens resident  1997  4,000 individuals  medium  A4ii  Least Concern 
Sula dactylatra resident  2006  800-1,000 breeding pairs  medium  A4ii  Not Recognised 
Brown Booby Sula leucogaster resident  1998  2,000 nests  medium  A4ii  Least Concern 
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla breeding  2005  223 individuals  medium  B4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  1997  25 adults only  medium  B4i  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1997  1,500-2,000 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus breeding  2005  4,000-5,000 individuals  medium  B4i  Least Concern 
Brown Noddy Anous stolidus breeding  2007  4,500 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Great Pedro Banks WS/R Wildlife Sanctuary 0 protected area contains site 0  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   -
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Shrubland   -
Introduced vegetation   -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture major
Notes: The Pedro Bank is fished for its conch by Jamaica and illegally by other countries especially in South America.
nature conservation and research major
Notes: Used as a nesting area by several sea birds.

Further web sources of information 

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

References 1 Douglas & Levy. Unpublished.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Pedro Cays and Bank. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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