|Location||Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua|
|Central coordinates||61o 43.87' West 17o 8.16' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4i, B4i|
|Altitude||0 - 50m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Ornithological information This IBA is notable for waterbirds and seabirds. The Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea breeds on some of the islands, and the numbers of Laughing Gull Larus atricilla are globally significant. Populations of Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis, Royal Tern Sterna maxima and Least Tern Sterna antillarum are important regionally. A range of other seabirds breed in smaller numbers.
Site description Offshore Islands IBA comprises many of Antigua’s 51 offshore islands. The majority are concentrated off the north-east coast of the mainland in the North Sound area. These include Redhead, Rabbit, Galley, Lobster, “Jenny”, Great Bird, Hellsgate and the Exchange islands. The islands of York and Green are located off the eastern most tips of the mainland, and the Five-Island islets to the west of the mainland. The islands range in size from c.40 ha (Green Island) to 0.25 ha (most of the Five-Island islets), and are characterized by limestone cliffs, xeric dry scrub and cactus vegetation, and surrounding mangroves and coral reef systems.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea||resident||2007||65 individuals||poor||A1||Vulnerable|
|Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis||resident||2007||40 individuals||poor||B4i||Least Concern|
|Laughing Gull Larus atricilla||resident||2007||1,000 individuals||poor||A4i||Least Concern|
|Royal Tern Sterna maxima||resident||2007||20 individuals||poor||B4i||Least Concern|
|Least Tern Sterna antillarum||breeding||2007||50 individuals||poor||B4i||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Great Bird and Guiana Bay Islands||Marine Sanctuary||1,038||protected area contained by site||0|
|Great Bird Island (North Sound)||Wildlife Reserve||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|Green Island (Mill Reef)||Wildlife Reserve||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|Green Island Reefs||Park Reserve||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Shrubland||Arid lowland scrub||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity The Critically Endangered Antiguan racer Alsophis antiguae is found on Great Bird Island and, as a result of reintroductions since 1999, Rabbit, Green and York islands. Significant numbers of the Critically Endangered hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata nests on the beaches of a number of the offshore islands (e.g. 60 nesting females on Pasture Bay, Long Island).
Management considerations The Offshore Islands exhibit a range of ownership. Some are privately owned or leased (e.g. Green and York islands are leased by the Mill Reef Club), some are state owned, and some are disputed (e.g. Great Bird Island and Rabbit Island). There is currently no legislation that provides for the protection or management of the terrestrial biodiversity of these islands, although the North East Marine Management Area embraces the marine components of the east coast islands. The Environmental Awareness Group has been leading an international effort to eradicate black rats from 10-15 islands, and to raise awareness of the need for an effective island management system. The Antiguan Racer Conservation Project has been reintroducing the endemic Alsophis antiguae to three rat-free islands (and numbers have increased from 50 in 1995 to 300 in January 2008). Breeding bird numbers are being monitored and are increasing on the islands cleared of rats. Unregulated tourism and recreational use of the islands is causing direct and indirect impact and disturbance to the biodiversity.
Acknowledgements Authors Joseph Prosper, Victor Joseph, Andrea Otto, Shanee Prosper (Environmental Awareness Group)
References Bacon, PR., (1991);Bunce, L., (1993);Caribbean Conservation Association. (1991);Lindsay, k. and Horwith, B. (1997);MacPherson, J. (1973);Martin-Kaye, P., (1969);Martin-Kaye, P., (1959);Pregill, GKD et al.(1994);Raffaele, H., et al. (1998); Spencer, W (1981)
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Offshore Islands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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