Cat Island Wetlands

Country/territory: Bahamas

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A4i, B4i (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 1,729 ha

Bahamas National Trust

Site description (baseline)
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.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Cat Island Wetlands. Downloaded from on 02/06/2023.