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Seabird Conservation

‘’Seabird’ is a general term used to describe any species of bird which spends most of its life foraging and breeding in the marine environment. Over twenty species of seabirds breed in the Caribbean, and dozens more occur as migrants in the region.

Many of these seabirds spend some or even most of their lives inland away from the sea. Before human habitation of the Caribbean (~7,000 years ago), the relatively predator-free islands of the region sustained abundant seabird populations, probably ten times greater than exist today. Today, tropical seabird populations have suffered significant declines in the Caribbean, with most populations consisting of at most, several thousand pairs, while some are on the brink of extinction.

The threats to seabirds today are a result of human needs and habits (egg collecting, introduction of exotic predators, pollution, habitat destruction and disturbance). Addressing these problems will be difficult in a region with many socioeconomic challenges and rapid development. However, sustainable seabird populations in the Caribbean are possible but require that we work together on multiple fronts to understand, promote and protect these important natural resources.

The BirdsCaribbean Seabird Working Group completed a project: Building International Capacity for Seabird Conservation. The goal of this regional project was to promote conservation and management of Caribbean seabirds. A capacity building workshop was held in San Salvador, Bahamas and small grants were awarded to 12 partners throughout the Caribbean to carry out seabird research, monitoring and conservation projects. A manual for how to study seabird was also produced in both English and Spanish.