Saba Coastline

Birdlife International has identified the entire coastline around Saba as an Important Bird Area. This IBA, named Saba Coastline and denominated as IBA AN006, includes all land areas from the coast to 400 metre inland around the perimeter of Saba, and all sea areas up to 1 kilometre from the coast. It also includes the rainforest ravine at “Thissell Park” (site of a former sulphur mine) and the Elfin Forest reserve at the top of Mount Scenery.

Saba’s coastline is mostly made up of rocky cliffs that are 100 metres high and over.  The terrain is very steep with sheer bluffs dropping almost straight down to the ocean’s edge. The steep cliffs are mostly barren slope, partly rubble and partly rocky. The steep terrain prevents the formation of mangrove swamps or the establishment of other shore zone vegetation. There are eight bays around the island, namely: Cove Bay, Spring Bay, Core Gut Bay, Fort Bay, Tent Bay, Ladder Bay, Wells Bay and Cave of Rum Bay.

Breeding places of seabirds are under strain all over the Caribbean, making Saba’s rocky shores particularly valuable. Six species use the island’s steep cliffs along the coast and the two rock islands as a breeding ground. The Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus), Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata fuscata) and Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) all breed in late spring on Green Island. The Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaeton aethereus), White-tailed Tropicbird  (Phaethon lepturus) and Audubon’s Shearwater (Puffinus lherminieri) nest in the holes and crevices of the island’s high cliffs. Saba’s shoreline is actually home to the Caribbean’s largest breeding colony of Red-Billed Tropicbird. Many migrating birds also visit the coastline to rest and feed before continuing their long journeys. Migrating seabirds, including the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) and the Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), can regularly be seen on Saba’s coastline.

Saba’s Elfin forest covers an area of approximately 8 hectares on the top of Mount Scenery. It grows above 825 metres (2,700 feet), where the air is cooler and passing moisture-laden clouds often reduce light. The forest absorbs water from the humid air so the plants have a constant supply of fresh water. Dominant tree species are the Mountain Mahogany (Freziera undulata) and Myrsine coriacea. The branches of the trees are covered with mosses, orchids and other epiphytes. In the underbrush, the Mountain Palm (Prestoea montana) and tree ferns dominate. All seven of the Lesser Antilles Endemic Bird Area (EBA) restricted-range birds occur in the Elfin forest and the rainforest ravine: the Bridled Quail-dove (Geotrygon mystacea), the Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis), the Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus), the Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus), the Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica), the Scaly-breasted Thrasher (Margarops fuscus) and the Lesser Antillean Bullfinch (Loxigilla noctis).

Bays - Areas, Coral reefs - Areas, SABA Special Areas