Fifteen new sites in Mexico complete WWD pledge
On World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2008, the government of Mexico announced the designation of 45 new Wetlands of International Importance, and the required bureaucratic process for getting those sites added to the Ramsar List was begun at that time. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to report now that the last 15 of those 45 new Ramsar sites have been listed, bringing Mexico’s total number of sites to 112 and surface area to 8,118,927 hectares, second only to the United Kingdom in number of sites and just after Canada and the Russian Federation in total Ramsar area. The 15 new sites are chiefly coastal lagoons, estuaries, and beaches, but there are a few interesting inland and highland riparian and oasis sites as well. The completion of this project for 45 new Ramsar sites is a tribute not only to the commitment of the government of Mexico, but also to the dedication of our Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, who has worked long hours with Mexico over the past nine months to bring this valuable work to fruition. Mila’s brief descriptions of the 15 newest sites can be seen below.
Agua Dulce. 02/02/08; Sonora; 39 ha; 31º55’N 113º01’W. Located within the Biosphere Reserve “Del Picante y Desierto de Altar”, which highlights the only riparian ecosystem of the region, Sonoyta river, considered of binational interest and shared between the USA and Mexico. At present, there is a mutual interest in establishing indicators for its management and conservation. Agua Dulce is a 3km stretch of the Sonoyta where water comes to the surface, creating conditions of an oasis in a desert. Among the main species found in the site is the Pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius), listed as endangered by the US and as endemic and endangered in Mexico’s legal system. There is a considerable presence of the turtle species Kinonsternon sonoriense longifemorale. The resident and migratory bird species that use the Pacific Flyway find in Agua Dulce a habitat of importance for food, shelter, resting and reproduction. Agua Dulce is characteristic for retaining water throughout the year, acting as the main source of water for wildlife in the area, and supporting an excellent biological diversity. Ramsar site no. 1813. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Ciénaga de Tamasopo. 02/02/08; San Luis Potosí; 1,364 ha; 21º50’N 099º18’W. One of the last lenthic wetlands of Neotropical climate found in San Luis Potosí, which allows it to hold many flora and fauna species of ecological importance. Among them are the Tule (Typha sp), water lilies, the freshwater turtle Kinosternon integrum, serpents, migratory birds, and the Moreletti Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii). The site is important for waterfowl species such as Anas clypeata, A. strepera, and A. americana, which use this area for resting during their migration journey. Other important fauna species include Boa constrictor, Crotalus scutulatus, Ctenosaura pectinata, Kinosternon integrum, Lampropeltis triangulum, Pituophis deppei, Accipiter striatus and Buteo albicaudatus. The flora species Dioon edule is under special protection in Mexican law. Agriculture and livestock are the main activities undertaken in the site. Ramsar site no. 1814. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Humedal La Sierra de Guadalupe. 02/02/08; Baja California Sur; 348,087 ha; 26°40’N 112°30’W. This system comprises four intermittent riverine systems that form several oases, and a coastal marine wetland. It is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California coasts and is important as the only freshwater source available in a territory where these sources are very scarce during the year, playing a vital role for local and migratory fauna. Two endemic flora species have been registered for the site, Washingtonia robusta y Prosopis articulata, as well as eight endemic reptile species including the amphisbaenid Bipes biporus. The long drought season is the factor most likely to alter this wetland, followed by anthropogenic threats that derive mainly from the extraction of water for human consumption and subsistence agriculture. Ramsar site no. 1815. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Humedales El Mogote – Ensenada de La Paz. 02/02/08; Baja California Sur; 9,184 ha; 24º09’N 110º21’W. A coastal lagoon separated from the La Paz Bay by a sandy barrier (El Mogote), with temporal pluvial water incoming during the summer. The mangroves of Ensenada de La Paz have floodplains and internal water bodies, creating small lagoons that are important nesting areas for many bird species such as Ardea herodias, Bubulcus ibis, Egretta rufescens, E. thula, E. tricolor, E. caerulea, Nyctanassa violacea, Nycticorax nictycorax, Eudocimus albus, Butorides striatus, Rallus limicola (endemic), Charadius wilsonia and Sternula antillarum, most of them under special legal protection. 37% of the bird species are migratory – more than 20,000 migratory shorebirds on their journey south stop in for a few days or weeks to eat and rest during the winter season. The most common mammal is the California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus), and other species like Procyón lotor, Canis latrans and Urocyon cinereoargentus can also be seen. There are 390 registered fish species in the Bay, including 14 species of sharks. The main activities undertaken are agricultural, livestock, industrial, and tourism. A Site of Regional Importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN, 2006). Ramsar site no. 1816. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Laguna Barra de Navidad. 02/02/08; Jalisco; 794 ha; 19°11’N 104°40’W. An estuarine system along Mexico’s western central littoral with permanent communication with the ocean. The vegetation found in the margins of the lagoon is composed mainly of the mangrove species Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa, Avicennia germinans and Conocarpus erectus. Sixty aquatic bird species have been identified in this site, representing 50% of the species identified for the coast of Jalisco. These include Ardea herodias, Egretta rufescens, Mycteria americana, Larus heermanni, Sterna elegans, Buteogallus anthracinus and Nomonyx dominicus, all but the last of which are under legal protection. The Snow goose Chen caerulescens has been observed in the lagoon, a new record for the coast of Jalisco The lagoon is essential for the reproduction of migratory and resident waterfowl, and is also of great importance for fish species in different stages of their life cycles. Ramsar site no. 1817. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Laguna Chalacatepec. 02/02/08; Jalisco; 1,093 ha; 19º40’N 105º13’W. Acoastal lagoon representative of the transition regions where biotic elements of the Neartic and Neotropical biogeographic regions come together. Mangroves are the predominant vegetation, including the species Laguncularia racemosa, Rhizophora mangle, Conocarpus erectus y Avicennia germinans. Important populations of the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) have been found, as well as the threatened Southern River Otter (Lutra annectens). The lagoon is essential for the reproduction of resident waterfowl such as Nyctanassa violacea, Ardea alba, Egretta thula, and Phalacrocorax brasilianus, and is used by migratory waterfowl (Anas acuta, Fulica Americana and Dendrocygna aututumnali) as a staging point for eating and resting on their long-distance journeys. The main human activities are local fishing, agriculture and extensive livestock in the surroundings. The site lies adjacent to the Marine Turtle Sanctuary “El Playuón de Mismaloya”, dedicated mainly to the conservation of marine turtles, activity that is becoming more and more popular as a tourist attraction and helping to create awareness of the importance of the protection of natural resources. Ramsar site no. 1818. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Lagunas de Chacahua. 02/02/08; Oaxaca; 17,424 ha; 16°00’N 097°40’W. Natural Protected Area, turtle sanctuary. A coastal lagoon system and a sandy beach facing the Pacific Ocean. It is distributed in low lands associated with alluvial, fluvial and deltaic plains, low intertidal marshes, and highlands up to 140m asl. These water bodies are home for several species such as the Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) that are under special protection, and fish species such as Centropomus nigriscens and Centropomus robalito. The beach portion of the site is a nesting ground for three marine turtles, especially the endangered Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). The site is also important for many resident and migratory bird species. The mangroves are a source of food and refuge for many birds, mammals, reptiles, among others. Fishing is the main human activity of the site, and the main potential threat is caused by the rapid population growth in its surroundings. The site has been a Natural Protected Area since 1937 and part of the “Playa de la Bahía de Chacahua” Sanctuary for the protection of marine turtles since 1986. Ramsar site no. 1819. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Parque Nacional Arrecife Alacranes. 02/02/08; Yucatán; 334,113 ha; 22°28´N 089°41´W. National Park. The most important coral formation in the Gulf of Mexico and one of the largest coral reefs of the country. It has five islands and supports a great biological diversity. The site is important for the preservation of germoplasm of endangered, endemic and useful species for humans. The conservation status of the coral reef is considered good, although the impact of human activities in the subaquatic medium is less known than in the terrestrial. It is BirdLife International Important Bird Area (IBA) for being the most important nesting site in the Gulf of Mexico for the bird species S. dactylatra, S. leucogaster, Sterna fuscata and Anous stolidus. In the sandy islands of Arrecife Alacranes, a great number of resident, migratory and occasional bird species have been registered. The site also supports four endangered species of marine turtles, threatened bird species Accipiter striatus, Falco peregrinus and Charadrius melodus and the coral species Plexaura homomalla, Plexaurella dichotoma, Acropora cervicornis and A. palmata. Until the 1940s, the Caribbean Monk Seal (Monachus tropicales) lived in this park but was exploited to extinction. The main threats the site faces are the presence of introduced species and the extraction of corals as “souvenirs”. The site has had a management plan since 2006. Ramsar site no. 1820. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Playa Barra de la Cruz. 02/02/08; Oaxaca; 18 ha; 15º50’N 095º56’W. The site consists of sandy beaches of great importance as a nesting ground for three marine turtle species: Dermochelys coriacea from October to March, Lepidochelys olivacea through out the year, and Chelonia mydas from October to January. It also supports a great variety of vertebrates including migratory birds such as Pelecanus occidentalis, Charadrius sp., Sterna sp; resident bird species like Fregata magnificens, Larus argentatus, Casmerodius alvus and Phalacrocorax sp., and in lesser quantities small mammals such as Nassua Larica, Procyon lotor, and Conepatus mesoleucus, as well as reptiles, amphibians and fish. During the winter, migratory birds have been registered using the estuaries as a resting stop during their long journeys. Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncates) are regularly observed close to the coast and groups of Humpback Whales Megaptera novaengliae can be seen when migrating to the southwest December and January and to the northeast during March and April. Ramsar site no. 1821. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema de Humedales Remanentes del Delta del Río Colorado. 02/02/08; Baja California, Sonora; 127,614 ha; 32º19´N 115º16´W. Comprises the remnants of the Delta of the Colorado River (Ramsar site 814), of great importance as it represents an ideal habitat for many migratory and resident species in a desert area in northwestern Mexico. The wetlands form part of the Pacific Flyway of migratory waterfowl in their journey from Canada or the USA to the south of the continent, including species such as Dendroica coronata, Tachycineta bicolor, and Vermivora celata. Other bird species use it as reproduction and nesting grounds, such as Charadrius vociferans and Himantopus mexicanus. The wetlands present several values at a regional level, including the recharge of aquifers in a desert area and prevention of floods, among others. Agriculture is the main human activity in this area. Ramsar site no. 1822. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema Estuarino Puerto Arista. 02/02/08; Chiapas; 62,138 ha; 16º00’N 093º53’W. An estuarine system and natural coastal wetland, the beaches of which are used as nesting grounds by the endangered marine turtles Lepidochelys olivacea, Dermochelys coriacea and Chelonia agassizi. The presence of juveniles of Eretmochelys imbricata bissa has also been registered in the site. The main flora species include Pithecellobium dulce, Coccoloba caracasana, Acanthocerus pentagonus,and Bursera excelsa, among others. In the estuarine zone, four mangrove species can be found (Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa, Avicennia germinans and Conocarpus erecta). The site is considered an Important Bird Area (IBA), and supports many resident and migratory waterfowl such as Recurvirostra americana, Tringa flavipes, Tringa melanoleuca,and Calidris minutilla. The main human activities are subsistence fishing, tourist activities, as well as furtive use of marine turtles that come to this area for nesting. Ramsar site no. 1823. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema Lagunar Ceuta. 02/02/08; Sinaloa; 1,497 ha; 24º02’N 107º04’W. Sanctuary. A system in northwestern Mexico formed by several lagoon complexes and marshes with an important extension of mangrove vegetation including Conocarpus erecta, Rhizophora mangle, Laguncularia racemosa and Avicennia germinans. It is considered a Site of Regional Importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) in Mexico, supporting populations of Calidris mauri (20,000), Phalaropus tricolor (15,000), Recurvirostra americana (15,000), Charadrius alexandrinus (650), and Sterna maxima (2,500). Its beaches are used by the Leatherback turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) as a nesting ground. The main human activities in the site are fishing, aquaculture and agriculture. Ramsar site no. 1824. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema Lagunar Estuarino Agua Dulce – El Ermitaño. 02/02/08; Jalisco; 1,281 ha; 20º00’N 105º30’W. A lagoon system of two water bodies considered to be the main coastal water body of Jalisco state: Agua Dulce Lagoon and El Ermitaño Estuary, interconnected by a channel constructed in the 1960s with floodgates that regulate the entrance from the estuary to the lagoon. Some 95 species of waterfowl have been reported in the site, of which 69 are migratory and 26 residents of this system and its surroundings, which play an important role for the reproduction, nesting, and feeding grounds for these species. This system is also home to specially protected species such as Heloderma horridum, Iguana iguana and Crocodylus acutus, as endangered, and Branta bernicla, Anas platyrhynchos and Nomonyx dominicus, as threatened. Three new species for the coast of Jalisco have been observed in the lagoon: Melanita perspicillata, Branta bernicla and Anas penelope. The main threats that negatively affect the system include the diversion of water for agricultural purposes, the use of agrochemicals in the surrounding crops, sewage water from rivers that supply the estuary, and deforestation. The main human activities are fishing and tourism. Ramsar site no. 1825. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema Lagunar San Ignacio-Navachiste-Macapule. 02/02/08; Sinaloa; 79,873 ha.; 25°26’N 108°49´W. A coastal/lagoon system in the Gulf of California that is habitat for 21 endangered species and considered of great importance for maintaining biological diversity. 87 species of terrestrial and halophytic plants have been registered. The mangroves found in the site are Laguncularia racemosa, Avicennia germinans and Rizophora mangle. Among the noteworthy fauna found are the dolphin Tursiops truncatus, sea lion Zalophus californianus and three marine turtles (Chelonia agassizii, Eretmochelys imbricata and Lepidcochelys olivacea). It is considered an Important Bird Area (IBA), supporting nesting species such as Phalacrocorax olivaceus and Fregata magnifiscens and other species such as Ardea herodias herodias, Cathartes aura, Pandión haliaetus and Caracara cheriway. Traditional fishing and shrimp farming (species Litopenaeus stylirostris, L. vanamei, Farfantepenaeus californiensis and F. brevirostris) are the main activities undertaken in the site. Ramsar site no. 1826. Most recent RIS information: 2008.
Sistema Ripario de la Cuenca y Estero de San José del Cabo. 02/02/08; Baja California Sur; 124,219 ha; 23º03’N 109º41’W. An ecosystem of great relevance for the region, from an hydrological as well as a biological perspective, as it supports a great number of unique flora species which constitute important corridors and refuges for wildlife. Among the flora species found in the riparian system are Washingtonia robusta and Erythea brandegeei endemic of Baja California; Populus brandegeei var glabra endemic of Sierra La Laguna, as well as Prunus serotina, Ilex brandegeana, Heteromeles arbutifolia y Salíx lasiolepis. One of the main characteristics of the site is the San José oasis and estuary, as it constitutes one of the greatest epicontinental environments of the Baja California Peninsula. The characteristic vegetation is formed by typical oasis species such as palms and aquatic species. It plays an important role for migratory species, as it is the last resting stop for aquatic bird species migrating to areas in the south of Mexico, Central America or South America. The estuary is an Important Bird Area (IBA) and a total of 217 species of waterfowl have been registered in the site, of which 97 are migratory. The biggest threat to the site is mainly due to a big tourist project in Puerto Los Cabos, only 800 meters away from the water bod – another is the introduction of invasive species such as the Tilapia (Cryptostegia grandiflora). Ramsar site no. 1827. Most recent RIS information: 2008.