Cruise report seabird and cetacean survey Saba bank expedition October 2011


In October 2011 an expedition took place to the Saba Bank, on board of the ship the Caribbean Explorer II. Main aim of the expedition was collecting data on underwater fauna and coral reefs. Apart from that data were collected on nutrients, water flow, sponges and seabirds and marine mammals. Data on the last group were collected by deploying acoustic data loggers, and by means of visual surveys. These visual surveys were conducted whenever the other activities permitted it. This cruise report presents an brief overview of the results obtained during the October 2011 survey. It contains a short day to day report, a full list of all birds, mammals and particular pieces of floating matter seen, and a brief presentation of the results. Furthermore the report contains a brief account of observed birds on Sint Maarten, since published accounts on the birdlife of the island are scarce.



  • The seabirds most often spotted were the Brown Booby and the Magnificent Frigatebird.
  • No marine mammals were observed.
  • Red-Billed Tropicbirds were primarily spotted near the shore of Saba.

Birds on Sint Maarten

The first ever records of the following birds were made during this expedition:

  • Cinnamon Teal (possibility of a hybrid cannot be excluded).
  • Marbled Godwit (flying over the Great Salt Pond).
  • A Merlin was seen hunting amongst Cliff Swallows and Barn Swallows.
  • Three Ospreys were recorded.
  • Breeding Caribbean Coots or adults with chicks were seen at several small ponds and in the salines.

Most Common (sighted>10)

  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
  • Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
  • Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
  • Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
  • Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
  • Carib Grackle (Quiscalus lugubris)
  • Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)

Least Common (sighted<2)

  • Merlin (Falco columbarius)
  • American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
  • Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia)
  • Short-billed (Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus)
  • Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata)
  • Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
  • Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
  • Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
  • Cabot's Tern (Thalasseus acuflavidus)
  • Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  • Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
  • Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus)
  • Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)
  • Northern Parula (Parula americana)
  • Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica)
  • Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus)
  • House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  • Northern Parula (Parula americana)
  • Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata)
  • Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)


The vessel that was used during this survey was not well suited for dedicated seabird and cetacean surveys. However, the gathered data fits in well with the seasonal pattern in observed seabird species and densities described for Guadeloupe for the same time period (distinct dip from August to October). According to Debrot et al, there are few records of cetaceans in October.

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