Long Salt Pond is an irregularly shaped pond that lies just west of Long Pond Bay, stretching a significant length to the west. The southern and the northern sides of the pond are elevated while the western and eastern sides are relatively flat. The area surrounding the pond’s edge is predominantly undeveloped; a few homes and villas are well set back from the pond’s edge.
Limestone pavement lines the northern and southern edges of the pond. The western shore of the pond consists of a mudflat that is usually evident during periods of low rainfall. When the pond is full, the mudflat is covered and the water stretches as far back as the unpaved road. Buttonwood mangrove line the edge of the water at the low water mark. The eastern shore consists of sand and grass flats and sandy spits, visible during periods of low water levels. Rock walls within the pond are the remnants of salt harvesting at the pond. Along the north-eastern side of the pond, rows of rock walls extend from the limestone pavement, enclosed by a perpendicular rock wall, creating several rectangular enclosed sections that had also been previously used during an attempt to engage in shrimp farming. There is a paved road which stretches west to east on the northern side of the pond, an unpaved road on the pond’s western side, and sandy unpaved road on its eastern side a few feet from the beach’s high water mark which leads to limited built tourism developments southeast of the pond.
Buttonwood mangrove lines the pond’s edge on its western end. It grows densely on the pond’s northern, southern and western side and thinly on its eastern end. Low-lying shrub vegetation, pondweed (Sesuvium portulacastrum), pond and dune grasses as well as beach runners including the Cow bean vine (Canavalia rosea) are characteristic of the area.
The pond is the main catchment for lands around this section of the southern coast. The main source of water for this pond is rainfall and run off from surrounding areas. There are no known springs. Salt water enters the pond as a result of its close proximity to Long Pond Bay. Indeed, the narrow sand bar that separates the pond from the sea is often breached during rough seas. Natural sand accretion prevents an on-going connection.
Currently, monitoring of salinity, phosphates, nitrates, phosphates, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and other gasses does not occur.
Overview of bird interests:
Average bird numbers tend to be relatively high on with numbers being above 200 individual birds between 2007 and 2011. Numbers gradually increase during the first half and then decline in the second half of the study period.
The most productive periods for this pond are in the spring and fall months coinciding with spring and fall migration of birds and in particular, the nesting of Least terns. During this five-year period, the most abundant species include Semi-palmated sandpiper, Least tern, Lesser yellowleg, and Black-necked stilt. IUCN Redlist species present at Long Salt Pond incude Semi-palmated sandpipers which occur in high numbers. In addition, although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN’s Redlist, Least terns are considered endangered in the territories where they are observed, including Anguilla. They are protected within Appendix I of the Biodiversity and Heritage Conservation Act (2009).
Overview of botanical interest:
Grasses and low shrub plants are dominant species along the eastern end of the pond. There are two varieties of cow bean: white and pink (Canavalia rosea). Limestone turf sedge grass (Fimbristylis cymosa) and the pondweed runner (Sesuvium portulacastrum) are also common.
Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus) is also a dominant plant around the shorelines of the pond especially where the substrate is limestone. They are, however, also present and setback from the pond on the surrounding area’s sand and mud shores.
Overview of other biodiversity interests:
Additional studies required.
Habitat and land use
Birds can be seen congregating along the rock walls within the south-eastern portion of the pond. While operations to harvest salt and farm shrimp had failed and were discontinued, the remnants have been ideal for birds looking for places to perch during higher water levels.
The sandy flat on the eastern side of the pond is used by a significant population of nesting Least terns. During the summer months when water levels are lower, the migratory bird species tend to congregate here as this area mimics beach-like conditions.
Muddy shores located on the western shoreline of the pond are similar to the shorelines present around most of the island’s other ponds. More prevalent shorebirds can be found here including sandpipers, yellowlegs, stilts, and various plovers.
The limestone pavement found primarily on the northern and southern pondline does not appear to be one of the preferred habitats.
Recreationally, the pond supports limited bird watching and hiking. 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 an 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.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
During the rain storm experienced in November 2011, the pond and sea connected when the beach and land and road separating the two was lost. In an effort to access the villas on the southern side of the pond, marl was used to bridge the gap. The marl that was used was different to the sandy substrate of this area. Through natural processes, the beach accretion replaced sand but but left a small pool between the ‘new’ road and the beach.
During the 2012 Least tern nesting season for least terns in 2012, the sandy spit on the eastern side was scattered with golf balls. Golfing in this area and the discarded golf balls could potentially interfere with nesting activities and damage eggs.
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.
Site access / Land-owner requests
Author: Clarissa Lloyd, Anguilla National Trust.
Edited by: Farah Mukhida, Anguilla National Trust.