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Location Bahamas, Cat Island
Central coordinates 75o 27.24' West  24o 18.50' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, B4i
Area 1,729 ha
Altitude 0 - 1m
Year of IBA assessment 2013

Bahamas National Trust (Partner Designate)

Site description Cat Island is about 130 miles southeast of Nassau, it is shaped like a boot, with the calf running northwest to southeast and the foot at the southern end. A paved road runs the length of the island with a series of dirt roads crossing the island to the ocean side. It is approximately 50 miles long with a number of small settlements along the western shore.There are two airports, Arthur's Town in the north and The Bight in the south. It has the highest point of elevation in The Bahamas, Mount Alvernia, 206 feet located near the ankle of the boot. On its peak sits Cat Island's most famous landmark, The Hermitage.

Key Biodiversity Cat Island is the southern end of the northern Bahamas and the southernmost breeding site for the Red-legged Thrush, Cuban Pewee and Bahama Yellowthroat. Gambier Lake is part of a large wetland area in the southern part of the island. This large body of brackish water is home to many species of resident and migratory birds. It ia a nesting site for Least Grebes, Neotropic Cormorants, Reddish Egrets, Tricoloured Herons, Least, Gull-billed and Royal Terns. The surrounding vegetation provide ideal habitat for resident and migrant woodland birds. During May and June 1986 Buden reported having heard West Indian Whistling Ducks at night in flight over the southern half of the Island. In June 2007 two West Indian Whistling Ducks were observed near the settlement of Knowles and local residents report that WIWD are common on the island and feed in the corn fields.

Non-bird biodiversity: Cat Island has a variety of reptiles including Bahama Boas, Pgymy Boas, Brown Racers, Curly-tailed Lizards, Blue-tailed Lizards. There are several gekos and anoles and the Greenhouse Frog. The freshwater Cat Island Turtles are believed to be the same species as the one on Jamaica, but it is an isolated and endangered population. The Black Witch Moth, a large moth with a bat-like flight is another noteworthy member of the Cat Island fauna.

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  50-249 individuals  poor  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Sterna nilotica breeding  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  B4i  Not Recognised 
Laughing Gull Larus atricilla resident  2005  250-999 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Least Tern Sternula antillarum breeding  2006  50-249 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Bahama Woodstar Calliphlox evelynae resident  2006  < 50 individuals  poor  A2  Least Concern 
Thick-billed Vireo Vireo crassirostris resident  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  A2  Least Concern 
Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii resident  2005  50-249 individuals  poor  A2  Least Concern 
Bahama Yellowthroat Geothlypis rostrata resident  2005  < 50 individuals  poor  A2  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   major
Shrubland   major
Coastline   major
Forest Mangrove  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -
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. 2007. Carolyn Wardle and Predensa Moore field trip to Cat Island. Unpublished documents available at Bahamas National Trust.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Cat Island Wetlands. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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