Cove Pond

Year of compilation: 2013

Site description
Cove Pond is one of the largest ponds on the mainland of Anguilla and forms part of a larger complex coastal lagoon system. It initially was attached to Merrywing Pond to the east and Gull Pond to the west. Its system stretches alongside Cove Bay and Maunday’s Bay and consists of a sandy bottom is irregularly shaped and very dynamic.

The pond is now split into two main basins, divided midway by a paved causeway built in 1993 that forms the main entrance to the Cap Juluca Hotel. Other developments near the pond include Modena Villa at its most eastern end and Sheriva Villa on the northern side of the causeway, leading to Cap Juluca Hotel. There are a few residential homes which are scattered along which are significantly setback from the pondline. 

The eastern basin is a wide expanse of water that had at one time, been connected Merrywing Pond by an unpaved road that has caused hydrological separation of the two ponds. The western basin which is separated from Gull Pond by an unpaved causeway is more narrow on its western end that leads to the back-of-house facilities of Cap Juluca Resort. The pond’s western shore is marl and is somewhat rocky. 

Cove Pond is lined by scrub vegetation along its northern side of its eastern basin and mangrove vegetation on its southern side. Sea grape buffers the pond outside of the Cap Juluca lobby, midway along the southern side of the pond. Cap Juluca Resort is landscaped with a number of ornamental plants that are both native and non-native. While the pond is sheltered on either side of its western basin by mangrove vegetation, its western shore is exposed. 
Hurricanes have caused significant changes around the pond, including the deposition of significant amounts of sand into the pond basin. This has led to a general decrease in catchment area although this has not translated specifically into increased flooding in the area.

Hydrological value:

Cove Pond receives water through rainfall and surface runoff. The land to the north slopes downward towards the pond. There is a sand dune to the south of the pond which protects it from strong winds from the Bay. While a channel once connected the pond to the sea, that channel is now closed. The pond remains brackish. 

The causeway which runs between the eastern and western sides has a netted culvert that allows water to pass through while capturing lost golf balls which wash down from the driving golf range which is located on the northeast side of the road, adjacent to the causeway to the main hotel. 

Currently, monitoring of salinity, phosphates, nitrates, phosphates, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and other gasses does not occur.

Key biodiversity
Overview of bird interests:

The average annual number of wetland birds in 2007 was approximately 75 birds. In 2008, this average annual number decrease to 50 after which, it increased in 2009 and 2010. The average number observed in 2011 was the lowest throughout the period 2007 to 2011.

Overview of botanical interests:

Additional studies required.

Overview of other biodiversity interests:

Additional studies required.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Sand mining and dune destruction continue to be issues faced on the island despite having a Beach Protection Act (2000) that prohibits these activities. Illegal activity requires further monitoring and greater enforcement of the law is necessary for effective conservation.

Domestic animals, especially dogs, have been reported as curiously wandering around key nesting grounds for Least terns. This has resulted in the disturbance of incubating birds as well as the damage of some nests. Monitoring of the next nesting group will need to be closely monitored and measures put in place to ensure the protection of these nesting birds.

Past dredging activity at the pond has resulted unpredictable turbidity of the pond as well as certain areas of the pond being rather deep.

Cove Pond was identified by the Government of Anguilla as a potential protected area – with protection emphasis being particularly placed on the Cove Bay sand dunes and the pond itself. Unfortunately, formal site protection appears to be linked to establishing a Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement with Cap Juluca Resort which had applied for permission to expand. With the decline of economic activity, the expansion proposal appeared to be on hold and no further action on designating Cove Pond as a national protected area has been taken.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Monthly wetland and terrestrial bird counts. 

Promote the site in educational material used during wetlands education work.

Secure funds for ensuring the sustainable and wise use of Anguilla’s wetlands.

Monitor site for eligibility for national and international recognition and protection.

Encourage compliance and lobby for enforcement of wetlands related policies and provisions.

Protected areas

Habitat and land use
Main habitat types:

Dredging activity at the pond for the maintenance of a small channel as well as during the construction of the causeways has resulted in the creation of sandy flats observed especially during lower water levels. These sandy flats and shorelines are preferred by nesting Least terns. Their population is significant enough to merit designation of the pond as an IBA. 

The northern limestone pavement shoreline is frequented by small shorebirds for resting. In, addition to the limestone shoreline, waders and several species of seabird are often observed resting along the rocky shorelines of the eastern and western boundaries of each basin. 

The sand dune at Cove Bay lines the entire southern side of the eastern half of the pond and provides a wind barrier, making the pond more sheltered for the wildlife present.

Current usage:

The pond supports limited bird watching through the resort and independently. An aqua driving range offered through Cap Juluca is also operational. 

It is included in wetlands education material used to educate individuals and groups about Anguilla’s wetlands and Important Bird Areas.

The pond also provides habitat for the Least tern, a species considered to be endangered in the countries along its migration route. The pond is used for research into the population trends of this bird as well as all others observed during the Anguilla National Trust’s Monthly Bird Monitoring Programme. Results of monitoring activities are published in biennial status reports.

Land ownership

Site access / Land-owner requests

Author: Clarissa Lloyd, Anguilla National Trust.

Edited by: Farah Mukhida, Anguilla National Trust.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cove Pond. Downloaded from on 19/01/2022.