Mustique Island

Country/territory: St Vincent and the Grenadines

IBA criteria met: A2, B4i (2008)
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Area: 2,470 ha

Site description (baseline)
Mustique (Figure 13) is a privately-owned island lying approximately 98 miles west-south-west of Barbados (Overing and Cambers, 1995). It is the second largest Grenadine island with one of the lowest populations throughout the country. It is however the second largest employer in SVG after the government of St. Vincent. The island is roughly rectangular in shape. Its longest axis north-south is 2.4 miles (4 km) and along the east-west, it maximum distance is 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The average rainfall on the island is 45 inches (114 cm), with rains occurring mostly in the wet season. The two highest regions on the island are the Central Cambell Hills (rising to 418 ft/127 m) and the Southern Hills (495 ft/151m) on which the island’s highest point is found. The remainder of the relief encompasses a large plain at the north-west and three small wetlands; Lagoon, Bird Sanctuary and Macaroni (Figure 13). Six seasonal streams and nine valleys drain the land. The entire island has been named a Conservation area. Custodianship of the island has been granted to The Mustique Company under the Mustique Company Limited Act of 1989. Regulations of the Act afford protection to the whole island and to a minimum of 3,000 ft (1,000 m) offshore. Hence fishing, the taking of turtle eggs, destruction of beach vegetation and, dredging, harvesting or damaging of corals along with disturbance, alteration, or destruction of natural environment is prohibited without the written permission from the Company. The vegetation is classified as coastal Dry Scrub. There are several naturally occurring wetlands on Mustique including Lagoon, Bird Sanctuary and Macaroni. There are also several man-made ponds that are utilized by the island’s avi- and herpeto- fauna. Lagoon is the second largest (17 acres/6.9 ha) wetland on SVG. Unlike Ashton on Union Island, it has been afforded greater protection by the Mustique Company. It lies in close proximity to a large stretch of seagrass and coral reefs. Surrounding the Lagoon is a mixture of Red, Black and White Mangroves, as well as Manchineel Hippomane mancinella and White Cedar trees Tabebuia pallida (Overing and Cambers, 1995). Few Button Mangroves Conocarpus erectus can also be found interspersed or in small stands. Lagoon is the only wetland on the island that has remained relatively intact since the 1950s (Overing and Cambers, 1995).

Key biodiversity
In 1999, the breeding population of Near Threatened Caribbean Coot was considered ‘common’ (see AvianEyes, 1999). Though no records exist for the presence of the Near Threatened Piping Plover or the Critically Endangered Eskimo Curlew on the island, it is believed that quality of the wetland habitats and the protection afforded to them will easily support those species, and that migrating species will likely select and use those habitats. The Restricted-range Antillean Crested Hummingbird is commonly found in the garden areas (AvianEyes, 1999), occasionally in wetland forests (AvianEyes, 1999) and perhaps less commonly among fringes of the dry forest that occur on the island. The Restricted-range Rusty-tailed Flycatcher is occasionally found at Lagoon (AvianEyes, 1999). Several species of waterbirds and sea birds forage on and around shores and neighbouring islets and rocks. These include the Great and Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egret, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Turnstone, Lesser Yellowlegs, several species of sandpipers and plovers, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Laughing Gull (Plate 8), Osprey, Blue-faced and Brown Booby and Magnificent Frigatebird (Overing and Cambers, 1995; AvianEyes, 1999). Species such as the Brown Booby and Brown Noddy are also known to breed on neighbouring islets, such as the Pillories at the north. The Osprey Pandion haliaetus is sometimes seen foraging along the coast and within the Lagoon wetland.

Non-bird biodiversity: Although there are no endemic species currently listed for Mustique, there is a population of the regionally-endemic Congo snake M. bruesi on the island. Its status is however unknown. The two lizards, Ameiva ameiva and Anolis aeneus, are probably affected by feral cats, but supporting data is unavailable. Mustique is also home to a number of marine reptiles of international concern. The Critically Endangered (IUCN listing) turtles Hawksbill Eretmochelys imbricata and Leatherback Dermochelys coriacea nest on several of its beaches. The Endangered (IUCN listing) Green turtle Chelonia mydas also forages within its waters. No comprehensive vegetation list currently exists for Mustique, thus it is unknown whether any of the countries endemic species exist there.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mustique Island. Downloaded from on 01/06/2023.