Central Mangrove Wetland

Year of compilation: 2006

Site description
The site, a large, almost totally pristine wetland east of North Sound, covers 3,440 ha (30% of the island area) and includes Meagre Bay Pond (40 ha), Pease Bay Pond (6 ha), Malportas Pond (44 ha) and a mangrove islet, Booby Cay. The vegetation height and composition, of red, white and black mangrove and Conocarpus, varies in zones from dwarf monospecific red mangrove on the edge of North Sound to monospecific black mangrove forest on the outer southern boundary. There are many seasonal areas of open water and, interspersed throughout, are 'dry cays' with dry forest species. Malportas Pond is included in this site, although separated from the Central Mangrove Wetland, because whistling ducks breed in the mangrove fringe and a government-funded feeding station is located on the edge of the pond; it is also a major site for wintering and resident waterbirds.

Key biodiversity
The species of global significance are the Vulnerable West Indian Whistling-duck, with at least 1,500 individuals or 83% of the Cayman Islands' population, and the Near-threatened Cuban Parrot caymanensis with a population of 253-379 birds (about 5% of the global population) that breeds in outer monospecific black, black/white and black/red mangrove zones (1,145 ha). There are three biome species: the Greater Antillean Grackle caymanensis, West Indian Woodpecker caymanensis and Loggerhead Kingbird caymanensis. A total of 22 taxa breed including, in a mixed heronry, 500 pairs of Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons and Tricoloured Herons; Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-herons breed throughout, and there are colonies of White-crowned Pigeons, White-winged Doves and Greater Antillean Grackles caymanensis, as well as Northern Flicker gundlachii, Caribbean Elaenia caymanensis, La Sagra's Flycatcher, Barn Owl, Bananaquit sharpei and Yellow Warbler. Max counts on Meagre Bay, Pease Bay and Malportas Ponds are 55 pairs of Least Terns, 11 pairs of Pied-billed Grebes, 32 pairs of Green Herons, six pairs American Coots, 700+ Common Moorhens(breeding and migrant), 143 pairs of Black-necked Stilts and five pairs of Willets.It is a major wintering site for up to 75 Great Blue Herons, 233 Great Egrets, 1,200 Snowy Egrets, 800 Blue-winged Teals, 25 Northern Shovelers, 38 American Wigeons and 40 Lesser Scaups, 377 American Coots, 180+ Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Yellowlegs, and flocks of up to 200 Semipalmated Sandpipers. Migrant raptors include Osprey, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon. Regular migrant landbirds include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Grey Catbird, WhiteeyedVireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, and 21 species of warbler, most commonly Northern Parula, Cape May Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Palm Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.

Non-bird biodiversity: Endemic to Grand Cayman: Agalinis kingsii, known only from this site and the Salina.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
This site is threatened by proposed road and urban development, despite efforts since 1986 to have it designated as a Ramsar site. The government removed allconservation zones from the 2001 Development Plan for Grand Cayman and, in 2004, this issue was still in the appeal process. The National Trust considers 'its long-termprotection to be one of the fundamental requirements for the well-being of the future generations in the Cayman Islands'. The Avicennia forest that forms the outervegetation zone is the major breeding habitat for two globally threatened species, the Cuban Parrot and West Indian Whistling-duck, and its removal for developmentwould be a major threat to both species. Already, four areas have been cleared for marl-mining pits. Additional threats are destruction of parrot nest sites during illegal trapping and shooting of parrots as a crop pest on the northern boundary of the wetland; packs of feral dogs and feral cats predate on whistling-duck young.

Protected areas
The site is 19% protected under Marine Conservation Law, 7% owned and protected by the National Trust, 9% owned by the Crown and unprotected, and 75% privately owned and unprotected.

Habitat and land use
The wetland is economically important to Grand Cayman for rainfall generation, groundwater replenishment, nature tourism, agriculture, fisheries, the dive industry, hurricane protection and recreation.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Central Mangrove Wetland. Downloaded from on 05/12/2022.