NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — The Bahamas unveiled a new national park to help protect the winter homes of endangered Atlantic Coast shorebirds, officials said Tuesday.
The Joulter Cays National Park covers nearly 114,000 acres (46,140 hectares) of uninhabited islands and sand flats northwest of Nassau, according to a statement from the National Audubon Society, which worked on the park’s proposal along with the Bahamas National Trust.
Officials said the designation will prohibit sand mining and protect traditional recreational and commercial uses in the Joulter Cays, a popular winter destination for 13 bird species including piping plovers and red knots. The national park hosts the largest congregation of piping plovers outside the U.S., according to Audubon.
“This is a great victory for heroic birds that don’t know borders,” said David Yarnold, Audubon’s CEO and president.
More than 50 percent of bird species in the Bahamas migrate from the U.S. and Canada.
The national park is one of several new ones created as the Bahamas aims to protect 6.18 million acres (2.5 million hectares) of land.
The announcement comes as officials also recognized a new hummingbird species on Bahamas’ Great Inagua island called the Inagua Woodstar.