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Location Bahamas, Cay Sal Bank
Central coordinates 80o 24.51' West  23o 42.38' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B4i, B4ii
Area 858 ha
Altitude 0 - 3m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Bahamas National Trust (Partner Designate)

Site description This remote group of cays are located due south of Miami midway between Florida and Cuba, although it is part of the Bahamas it is closer to Florida and Cuba than to Andros. They are presently uninhabited except for providing ideal harbour for yachts sailing between Cuba and Florida, however, plans are afoot to build a marina on Cay Sal. Cays making up this group are Double Headed Shot Cays, Elbow Cay, Damas and Anguilla Cays and Cay Sal.

Key Biodiversity This site is a seabird nesting haven, healthy colonies of Terns and Audubon's Shearwaters is reported to nest on the Cay Sal Bank. Elbow Cay the northwest corner is considered the principal nesting site for Audubon's Shearwaters, Royal Terns, Roseate Terns, Bridle Terns, Sooty Terns, and Brown Noddies. Smaller colonies of Terns including Sandwich Terns nest on Dog Rocks, Damas and Anguilla Cays. Resident non-breeding seabirds include Brown Pelicans, Magnificant Frigatebirds, Double-crested Cormorants and Brown Boobies. Landbirds are few, Green Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Antillean Nighthawks, Gray Kingbirds,White-crowned Pigeons, Mourning Doves and Common Ground Doves. It is used as a stopover site for migrating landbirds. There is also a saltwater logoon on Cay Sal that is used as a resting place for shorebirds.

Non-bird biodiversity: An endemic anole is found on Cay Sal and one of the Anguilla Cays. Bahamian Brown Anoles, Worm Snakes, and Pygmy Boas are also found on this site. Loggerhead Turtles are known to nest on the sandy beaches, Hawksbill and Green Turtles may also nest here according to reports in 1994 and 1995

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Puffinus lherminieri breeding  2006  250-999 breeding pairs  poor  B4ii  Not Recognised 
Pelecanus occidentalis winter  2005  < 50 individuals  poor  B4i  Not Recognised 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis breeding  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii breeding  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  2005  250-999 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus breeding  2006  2,500-9,999 breeding pairs  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala resident  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  A1  Near Threatened 


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

Land use

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

Further web sources of information 

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

References White, A.W. 1998b. A Birder's Guide to the Bahama Islands (Including Turks and Caicos). American Birding Association. Colorado Springs, CO. 302pp. Bainton, Aileen M. and Anthony W. White. 2006. A Bibliography of Birds, Ornithology and Birding in The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands. Media Enterprises Ltd. Nassau, Bahamas. 96pp.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Cay Sal (superseded 26/03/2015). Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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