San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands

Country/territory: Aruba (to Netherlands)

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

Area: 248 ha

Site description (2007 baseline)
Five small (1.75km2) low lying (max height 3m), boulder-coral reef islets located at the south-east corner of Aruba. The islands are located within San Nicolas Bay separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon (3m-15m) adjacent to a large oil refinery and the town of San Nicolas. Hurricanes, winter storms and heavy rains have changed the size, substrate and extent of vegetative cover on the islands. Human disturbance and egg collecting has been minimized through public awareness and education. Informal protection provided by the refinery staff with regular patrols by the coastguard.

Key biodiversity
A significant regional site for Cayenne tern (1,300 – 3,500 prs.), black noddy (26-48 prs.) , roseate tern (25-75 prs.) and common tern (10-30 prs.). The site also includes sooty terns (2,000 - 6,600 prs.), brown noddy (120-180 prs.), bridled terns (3-150 prs.), least tern (5-85 prs.), and up to 10 prs of sandwich tern and royal tern. The timing of nesting is primarily between early April and mid-August, although black noddies may nest outside of this period.

Non-bird biodiversity: Aruban whiptail lizards Cnemidophorus arubensis have been recorded on the islets; turtles are occasionally seen in the waters surrounding the islands; they are not known to breed on the islets. Queen conch (Strombus gigas) is relatively abundant (but not quantified) south of the San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands.

We are very thankful to the author of this information Dr. Adrian del Nevo, and Theo Wools and Facundo Franken for their review.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: San Nicolas Bay Reef Islands. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.