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Location Bahamas, Andros
Central coordinates 78o 7.00' West  25o 16.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i
Area 16,000 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2012

Bahamas National Trust (Partner Designate)

Site description The Joulter Cays (25o 16.00 North 78o 7.00 West) lie on the margins of the Grand Bahama Bank north of Andros Island. It is a large intertidal to shallow subtidal area of stabilized sand flats that covers approximately 160 km2 (16,000 ha). The sand flats are penetrated partly by tidal channels with grass beds. The flats area fringed on the windward eastern and northeastern boarders by mobile sands creating roosting habitats for shorebirds. On the seaward side there is a ridge of vegetated islands up to 6 m above mean sea level. The primary vegetation on the Joulter Cays is Red and Black Mangrove. Other vegetated islands are scattered among the sand flats. The sand bars are primarily made up of Ooid or Oolite sand. This unique spherical grained sand resembling Fish-roe is developed through a chemical process adding concentric layers around a central nucleus. The sands have a large surface area that promotes bacterial growth and are mainly used in the aquarium industry.

Key Biodiversity 

Non-bird biodiversity: Bonefish, Lemon Shark, Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Sawfish

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Piping Plover Charadrius melodus winter  2012  min 326 individuals  medium  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus winter  2012  min 2,339 individuals  medium  A4i  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 high not assessed low

Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Joulter Cays Wild Bird Reserve 117 protected area contained by site 117  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mangrove  major
Coastline Sand bars, banks & spits  major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research minor
tourism/recreation major
Notes: Bonefishing

Protection status Not currently protected. The Joulter Cays are named under the 1968 Wild Bird Act as a Wild Bird reserve. The Act stipulates that it is illegal to harm, kill or capture or attempt to harm, kill or capture ANY wild birds in these areas at any time. While the legislation does not protect the habitats directly it does provide the platform for future protections.

Acknowledgements Compilers: Matt Jeffery, Walker Golder - National Audubon Society

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Joulter Cays. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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