TC005
East Caicos and adjacent areas


Country/territory: Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK)

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

Area: 30,440 ha

Protection status:

Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2014 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here


Site description
The site includes areas to the east of TC003. The area includes: East Caicos, a large and totally uninhabited island, including caves, ponds, woodlands, flats and marshes, Joe Grant's Cay, Windward Going Through and, on Middle Caicos, Long Bay and the creeks and flats at Lorimers and Increase, together with the reef off Middle and East Caicos. East Caicos is a complex of inter-related dry-land, pond, cave, marshes, flats and other wetlands, adjoining an existing Ramsar site (TC003) which covers only a small part of East Caicos. Long Bay is the NE shore of Middle Caicos and adjacent dry-land peninsula backing this.The intervening area at the eastern end of Middle Caicos and around Joe Grant Cay is a complex of cays, creeks and marshes, around to Windward Going Through, and adjoining the existing Ramsar site. Varied scrub ecosystems occur on small cays.From the north shores of Middle and East Caicos and the east coast of East Caicos to the near offshore reef-wall is an extremely important coral-reef area.

Key biodiversity
East Caicos needs more survey information but is probably important throughout the year for the globally threatened West Indian Whistling Duck and Kirtland's Warbler during the non-breeding season. It is the only site where several Piping Plovers have been found together.The area is important too for restricted-range species: Bahama Woodstar, Bahama Mockingbird and Thick-billed Vireo, an endemic subspecies; and other biome-restricted species: Greater Antillean Bullfinch, an endemic subspecies, and the Cuban Crow. It is the sole location where the Cuban Emerald is recorded but it only occurs occasionally and is not resident. Quantitative information is limited but in terms of the Caribbean region, there are significant numbers of Brown Pelican (150 individuals), American Oystercatcher (>40 breeding pairs),Wilson's Plover (>30 breeding pairs), Laughing Gull (>150 individuals),Gull-billed Tern (> 20 breeding pairs),Royal Tern, (>60 individuals),Sandwich Tern (>50 individuals), and, Least Tern (>100 individuals and >30 breeding pairs).

Non-bird biodiversity: The Middle and East Caicos wetlands comprise interrelated ecosystems complete with submerged mangroves, algal flats and seagrass beds. It is a wetland site of international importance containing a variety of marine and coastal habitat types, and complex natural transitions. Noteworthy are mangrove swamps, diverse bird life, numerous Arawak sites and several inlet cays. The whole area is a particularly good example of coastal wetland habitat in the Caribbean, providing shelter and nursery locations for various species of waterfowl, turtles and commercial fish species.The East Caicos cave system is probably important for bats and endemic invertebrates.Internationally important species occurring on the site include the following Turks & Caicos Islands endemic species of lizard: the gecko Aristelliger hechti (CR), Curly Tail Leiocephalus psammodromus, Caicos Islands Reef Gecko Sphaerodactylus caicosensis; and the one endemic species of snake: the Caicos Islands Trope Boa Tropidophis greenwayi. In addition there are further lizards that are endemic at the subspecific level: Turks & Caicos Bark Anole Anolis scriptus scriptus, Mabuya Skink (or slippery back or snake-doctor) Mabuya mabouya sloanei; and one snake: Bahaman Rainbow Boa Epicrates chrysogaster chrysogaster. The reef is important for marine ecosystems, and is a feeding area for some seabirds. The waters and reef are important for turtles Chelonia midas (EN), Eretmochelys imbricata (CR), Caretta caretta (EN), and most nesting beaches are thought to occur on East Caicos and Long Bay. Additionally, submerged mangroves and algal flats are important in contributing suspended material to nearby sand banks and by virtue of circulation to and from the cuts and creeks, the mangroves also contribute materials to the coral reefs. The wetlands are thought to play a major role in providing a nursery and feeding grounds for numerous fauna. They act also as land-protection against hurricane damage. The shallow flats where the seagrasses grow serve as major nursery areas of the inshore marine environment. They are the immediate recipients of nutrients produced from the mangrove areas themselves. The areas often do not contain many species, but some exist in high numbers. Thus the economic value of these areas, particularly with regard to edible species such as mullets and shrimp and sport species such as bonefish, is high.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: East Caicos and adjacent areas. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/12/2019.