email a friend
printable version
Location Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK), East Caicos
Central coordinates 71o 31.17' West  21o 41.82' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, B4i
Area 30,440 ha
Altitude 0 - 50m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description The site includes areas to the east of TC003. The area includes: East Caicos, a large and totally uninhabited island, including caves, ponds, woodlands, flats and marshes, Joe Grant's Cay, Windward Going Through and, on Middle Caicos, Long Bay and the creeks and flats at Lorimers and Increase, together with the reef off Middle and East Caicos. East Caicos is a complex of inter-related dry-land, pond, cave, marshes, flats and other wetlands, adjoining an existing Ramsar site (TC003) which covers only a small part of East Caicos. Long Bay is the NE shore of Middle Caicos and adjacent dry-land peninsula backing this.The intervening area at the eastern end of Middle Caicos and around Joe Grant Cay is a complex of cays, creeks and marshes, around to Windward Going Through, and adjoining the existing Ramsar site. Varied scrub ecosystems occur on small cays.From the north shores of Middle and East Caicos and the east coast of East Caicos to the near offshore reef-wall is an extremely important coral-reef area.

Key Biodiversity East Caicos needs more survey information but is probably important throughout the year for the globally threatened West Indian Whistling Duck and Kirtland's Warbler during the non-breeding season. It is the only site where several Piping Plovers have been found together.The area is important too for restricted-range species: Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Mockingbird and Thick-billed Vireo, an endemic subspecies; and other biome-restricted species: Greater Antillean Bullfinch, an endemic subspecies, and the Cuban Crow. It is the sole location where the Cuban Emerald is recorded but it only occurs occasionally and is not resident. Quantitative information is limited but in terms of the Caribbean region, there are significant numbers of Brown Pelican (150 individuals), American Oystercatcher (>40 breeding pairs),Wilson's Plover (>30 breeding pairs), Laughing Gull (>150 individuals),Gull-billed Tern (> 20 breeding pairs),Royal Tern, (>60 individuals),Sandwich Tern (>50 individuals), and, Least Tern (>100 individuals and >30 breeding pairs).

Non-bird biodiversity: The Middle and East Caicos wetlands comprise interrelated ecosystems complete with submerged mangroves, algal flats and seagrass beds. It is a wetland site of international importance containing a variety of marine and coastal habitat types, and complex natural transitions. Noteworthy are mangrove swamps, diverse bird life, numerous Arawak sites and several inlet cays. The whole area is a particularly good example of coastal wetland habitat in the Caribbean, providing shelter and nursery locations for various species of waterfowl, turtles and commercial fish species.The East Caicos cave system is probably important for bats and endemic invertebrates.Internationally important species occurring on the site include the following Turks & Caicos Islands endemic species of lizard: the gecko Aristelliger hechti (CR), Curly Tail Leiocephalus psammodromus, Caicos Islands Reef Gecko Sphaerodactylus caicosensis; and the one endemic species of snake: the Caicos Islands Trope Boa Tropidophis greenwayi. In addition there are further lizards that are endemic at the subspecific level: Turks & Caicos Bark Anole Anolis scriptus scriptus, Mabuya Skink (or slippery back or snake-doctor) Mabuya mabouya sloanei; and one snake: Bahaman Rainbow Boa Epicrates chrysogaster chrysogaster. The reef is important for marine ecosystems, and is a feeding area for some seabirds. The waters and reef are important for turtles Chelonia midas (EN), Eretmochelys imbricata (CR), Caretta caretta (EN), and most nesting beaches are thought to occur on East Caicos and Long Bay. Additionally, submerged mangroves and algal flats are important in contributing suspended material to nearby sand banks and by virtue of circulation to and from the cuts and creeks, the mangroves also contribute materials to the coral reefs. The wetlands are thought to play a major role in providing a nursery and feeding grounds for numerous fauna. They act also as land-protection against hurricane damage. The shallow flats where the seagrasses grow serve as major nursery areas of the inshore marine environment. They are the immediate recipients of nutrients produced from the mangrove areas themselves. The areas often do not contain many species, but some exist in high numbers. Thus the economic value of these areas, particularly with regard to edible species such as mullets and shrimp and sport species such as bonefish, is high.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea resident  2005  unknown  A1  Vulnerable 
Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens winter  2005  300 individuals  poor  A4i  Near Threatened 
Pelecanus occidentalis breeding  2005  150 individuals  poor  B4i  Not Recognised 
Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia breeding  2005  30 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Sterna nilotica breeding  2005  20 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Not Recognised 
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla passage  2005  150 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  2005  60 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2005  200 breeding pairs  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Least Tern Sternula antillarum breeding  2005  30 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Bahama Woodstar Calliphlox evelynae resident  2005  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Vireo Vireo crassirostris resident  2005  unknown  A2  Least Concern 
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii resident  2005  unknown  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2014 high not assessed not assessed

Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline   major
Forest Mangrove  minor
Shrubland   minor
Rocky areas   minor
Wetlands (inland)   minor
Sea   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised -

Protection status The currently uninhabited area has been previously threatened by major resort development, and some threats remain. It urgently needs Nature Reserve status as recommended by Clarke & Norton 1987 and in the TCNT Biodiversity Management Plan.

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: East Caicos and adjacent areas. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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