This remote group of cays are located due south of Miami midway between Florida and Cuba,
although it is part of the Bahamas it is closer to Florida and Cuba than to Andros. They are presently uninhabited except for providing ideal harbour for yachts sailing between Cuba and Florida, however, plans are afoot to build a marina on Cay Sal. Cays making up this group are Double Headed Shot Cays, Elbow Cay, Damas and Anguilla Cays and Cay Sal.
This site is a seabird nesting haven, healthy colonies of Terns and Audubon's Shearwaters is reported to nest on the Cay Sal Bank. Elbow Cay the northwest corner is considered the principal nesting site for Audubon's Shearwaters, Royal Terns, Roseate Terns, Bridle Terns, Sooty Terns, and Brown Noddies. Smaller colonies of Terns including Sandwich Terns nest on Dog Rocks, Damas and Anguilla Cays. Resident non-breeding seabirds
include Brown Pelicans, Magnificant Frigatebirds, Double-crested Cormorants and Brown Boobies. Landbirds are few, Green Herons, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Antillean Nighthawks, Gray Kingbirds,White-crowned Pigeons, Mourning Doves and Common Ground Doves.
It is used as a stopover site for migrating landbirds. There is also a saltwater logoon on Cay Sal that is used as a resting place for shorebirds.
Non-bird biodiversity: An endemic anole is found on Cay Sal and one of the Anguilla Cays. Bahamian Brown Anoles, Worm Snakes, and Pygmy Boas are also found on this site. Loggerhead Turtles are known to nest on the sandy beaches, Hawksbill and Green Turtles may also nest here according to reports in 1994 and 1995
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Upcoming development will create disturbance to birds and destruction of habitat.
Elbow Cay has a fresh water cistern and Cuban refugees frequently stop there.
They have decimated the Audubon's Shearwater colony to obtain fresh meat.
Habitat and land use
The offshore rocky cays make an ideal nesting site for several species of seabirds and a few species of resident landbirds.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cay Sal. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 05/02/2023.