The Bahamas are a series of archipelagos consisting of more than 700 low, flat limestone islands, cays, and islets located east of the Florida Keys. Lying in both the subtropics and tropics, they have biological affinities with the Caribbean but have never been connected with the mainland. While some have been exploited extensively, many others remain relatively untouched.

The Caribbean monk seal (Neomonachus tropicalis) was formerly distributed throughout the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico eastwards to the Bahamas. In 1707 the latter islands were said to be ‘filled with seals’, and 100 animals could be caught in a single night. Extensively exploited for centuries, it was long considered extremely rare. The species has not been seen since 1952 despite extensive searches.

The minor red bat (Lasiurus minor) is known from a handful of lowland forest localities on Hispaniola as well as in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.

Two subspecies of the Bahamian hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami), a type of large rodent, disappeared during the seventeenth century and are discussed elsewhere in this book. The species as a whole was long thought to be extinct until 1966, when an abundant population of the nominate subspecies (G. i. ingrahami) was found on East Plana Cay, a small uninhabited island. It has since been introduced to two other small islands (Little Wax Cay and Warderivk Wells Cay).

The Bahamian lesser funnel-eared bat (Chilonatalus tumidifrons) is currently known from Abaco, Andros, and San Salvador, with fossil material also having been discovered on New Providence, Cat Island, and Great Exuma. It is vulnerable due to its dependence upon caves for roosting.

The Bahamian rose-throated Amazon (Amazona leucocephala bahamensis) is a type of parrot that was historically widespread in the Bahamas but has been extirpated from a number of islands. Now reduced to two known populations, one in the Abaco Islands and the other on Great Inagua, it appears, however, to be relatively common and is not considered to be immediately threatened.

The Bahamian swallow (Tachycineta cyaneoviridis) breeds only in the northern Bahamas (Andros, Grand Bahama, Abaco, and New Providence), from where it winters throughout the eastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Florida Keys. It is threatened by logging of its pine forest breeding areas.

Gould’s emerald (Chlorostilbon elegans) is a presumably extinct type of hummingbird that was described from a single specimen collected in 1860 of unknown provenence, although Jamaica or the northern Bahamas are the most likely sources.

The northern Bahamian boa (Chilabothrus exsul) is confined to Grand Bahama, Great Abaco, Little Abaco, Green Turtle Cay, Elbow Cay, and Tilloo Cay.

Two species of freshwater and marine cavefish of the genus Lucifuga are endemic to the Bahamas. The Bahamian cusk-eel (L. spelaeotes) has been collected or reported from 12 marine ‘blue holes’, inland karst caverns, and deep fracture chasms on eight islands throughout the archipelago. The Lucayan cuskeel (L. lucayana) is known from Grand Bahama and Abaco.

The Andros Islands

The Andros Islands are an archipelago located on the western edge of the Great Bahama Bank, consisting of three main islands (North Andros, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros) and hundreds of small islets and cays connected by mangrove estuaries and tidal swamps. They have been hard-hit by logging, construction activities, feral animals, and fires.

The Bahamian oriole (Icterus northropi) is historically only known to inhabit two major islands in the Andros group (Abaco and Andros). It was extirpated from the former in the 1990s, and now appears to be confined to North Andros, South Andros, and Mangrove Cay, although it is likely that it may occur on some of the smaller cays as well. The total population is thought to be between 140 and 260.

The northern Bahamian rock iguana (Cyclura cychlura) is found in various subpopulations in the Andros and Exuma islands. The Andros rock iguana (C. c. cychlura) is confined to Andros Island and associated satellite cays, where it is threatened by subsistence hunting and overcollection for the pet trade. The total wild population is thought to be around 3500.

The Exuma Islands

The Exuma islands consist of hundreds of cays, the largest of which is Great Exuma.

The Exuma rock iguana (Cyclura cychlura figginsi) is confined to small keys scattered throughout the central and southern Exuma Island chain. Another subspecies, the Allen Cays rock iguana (C. c. inornata), has only two known breeding populations, on Leaf Cay and U Cay (also known as Southwest Allen’s Cay) in the northern Exuma Islands.

White (Sandy) Cay

White (Sandy) Cay is located in the southern Exuma Islands.

The central Bahamian rock iguana (Cyclura rileyi) is confined various subpopulations within three Bahamian island groups. The White Cay rock iguana (C. r. cristata) is confined to White (Sandy) Cay.

Grand Bahama Island

Grand Bahama is the northernmost of the Bahama Islands, located 84 km off Palm Beach, Florida.

The Grand Bahama woodpecker (Melanerpes superciliaris nyeanus) is confined to coastal forests on Grand Bahama and San Salvador (Watling Island).

The Grand Bahama nuthatch (Sitta insularis) is endemic to the island, where it was feared extinct due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. It was later discovered in small numbers, only to see its population devastated by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. The species has not been reported since.

San Salvador Island

San Salvador Island (formerly known as Watling’s Island) is located in the eastern Bahamas.

The San Salvador rock iguana (Cyclura rileyi rileyi) has largely disappeared from San Salvador itself, and the subspecies is today largely restricted to five tiny offshore cays (Gaulin, Goulding, Green, Low, and Manhead). It has presumably been extirpated on at least six additional cays.

The Abaco Islands

Located in the northern Bahamas, the Abaco Islands consist of the main islands of Great Abaco and Little Abaco along with smaller barrier cays.

The Great Abaco hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami abaconis) was mentioned by early European explorers, and is thought to have become extinct by 1600, likely due to land clearance.

The Acklins Bight

The Acklins Bight is a group of islands located along a large, shallow lagoon in the south-central Bahamas.

Natural populations of the Acklins Bight rock iguana (Cyclura rileyi nuchalis) are found only on Fish Cay and North Cay. Formerly they occurred on at least Long (Fortune) Cay and probably others, including the much larger Crooked and Acklins Islands. An additional introduced population with five founding individuals became established on a small cay in the early 1970s.

Crooked Island

Crooked Island is located in the northern Acklins Bight.

The Crooked Island hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami irrectus) was exterminated by 1600.

The Bimini Islands

The Bimini Islands are located in the north-eastern Bahamas. They are comprised of North Bimini, South Bimini, and East Bimini.

The Bimini boa (Chilabothrus strigilatus fosteri) is confined to the Bimini Islands.

The Inaugua Islands

The Inagua Islands are located in the southern Bahamas. They are comprised of Great Inagua and Little Inagua.

The Great Inagua slender blindsnake (Cubatyphlops paradoxus) is known only from two specimens collected on Great Inagua in 1967.

New Providence Island

New Providence Island is the most populous island in the Bahamas, and home to the capital city of Nassau.

Brace’s emerald (Chlorostilbon bracei) is a now-extinct type of hummingbird known only from a single specimen collected on New Providence in 1877.

The Plana Cays

The Plana Cays are two small, uninhabited islands located in the southern Bahamas.

The East Plana curly-tailed lizard (Leiocephalus greenwayi) is confined to East Plana Cay in the southern Bahamas.

The rose-throated Amazon (Amazona leucocephala) is a type of parrot found in Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands. Individuals have also been observed in the wild in Puerto Rico, likely the result of escaped pets, and no reproduction has been recorded. Several subspecies will be discussed below.

The Cuban flycatcher (Tyrannus cubensis) is a type of passerine bird that was historically found in parts of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as on Cuba, but is nowadays confined to the latter island, where it is increasingly rare.

The Jamaican slider (Trachemys terrapen) is a type of turtle found in freshwater areas of both Jamaica and The Bahamas. As it is not found on any of the surrounding islands in the region it is assumed to have been introduced from one of these countries to the other, although it is currently impossible to say which. It is threatened by feral cats and raccoons.