What are seabirds?

 BROWN BOOBY

BROWN BOOBY

The term ‘seabird’ is generally applied to birds that forage at sea. Twenty-two seabird species breed in the insular Caribbean region (which for BirdsCaribbean stretches from Bermuda to the Bahamas and south to Venezuela, and includes all the islands and cays off Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, central America and northern South America).

Families of seabirds that nest in, migrate through, or winter in the Caribbean include petrels, shearwaters, tropicbirds, frigatebirds, boobies, cormorants, pelicans, phalaropes, gulls, terns, skimmers, skuas and jaegers.  All are highly adapted to the special challenges of life at sea. Download a list of seabirds that breed in the Caribbean here 

Why conserve seabirds?

Caribbean seabirds are an intrinsically valuable part of the Caribbean’s rich biodiversity.  They serve as guides for fishermen and attractions for tourists and contribute to nutrient cycling in the marine environment. Additionally, birds in general, and seabirds in particular, are recognized to be very good indicators of the productivity and quality of habitats. Conservation of seabirds is therefore of great importance.

 

Promoting conservation of Caribbean seabirds - the Seabird Working Group of BirdsCaribbean

 banding a masked boobiy at Pedro cays

banding a masked boobiy at Pedro cays

The Seabird Working Group was established in 1997, to promote conservation of seabirds in the region. It functions mainly through its yahoo group Carib-Seabird-WG@yahoogroups.com and meets every two years at the society’s General Meeting. The majority of people who are working on seabirds in the region participate in the yahoo group.  Persons who are interested in getting involved should contact the Seabird Working Group’s co-chairs - (Will Mackin willmackin@gmail.com or Ann Sutton ahaynessutton@gmail.com). 

The West Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas and database (www. WICbirds.net) tracks reports of breeding seabirds in the Caribbean. It was created by Will Mackin (Co-chair of the Seabirds Working Group for BC and David Lee Co-founder of the Seabird Working Group and former curator of Birds at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It includes the latest estimates of numbers of breeding pairs by colony and species, as well as updated maps of the breeding colonies on island groups, species accounts and an assessment of threats to seabirds and their habitats.

Activities of the Seabird Working Group include promoting seabird conservation, identifying priorities for seabird conservation, exchange of information about seabirds, holding seabird capacity building and training workshops, and public education about Caribbean seabirds. Important resources developed by the group and its members include "An Inventory of breeding seabirds of the Caribbean", a paper on Caribbean seabird conservation priorities “Strategies for Protecting and Restoring Populations of Seabirds of the Caribbean" and the "Caribbean Seabirds Monitoring Manual", which is available in English as a pdf from ahaynessutton@gmail.com. A Spanish version is in preparation. 

 

 available from asutton@cwjamaica.com

available from asutton@cwjamaica.com

 
 
 
 

"An Inventory of Breeding Seabirds of the Caribbean" 2009 edited by Patricia E. Bradley and Robert L. Norton. Published by University of Florida Press can be purchased on Amazon..