World Wetlands Day 2006
In what has become a tradition, for the third year in a row the government of Mexico has taken the opportunity of World Wetlands Day celebrations to add new Wetlands of International Importance, four of them this year, coming just after an additional two new Ramsar sites in late November 2005. Here are Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal's brief descriptions based on the data in the Ramsar Information Sheets.
Cascadas de Texolo y su entorno. 02/02/06; Veracruz; 500 ha; 19°24'N 097°00'W. Situated in the Neovolcanic Transversal Axis, the Texolo waterfalls are a wetland surrounded by mountain cloud forests that host a high proportion of endemic fauna and flora, as well as internationally threatened and vulnerable species such as Magnolia schiedeana, Symplocos coccinea and Stanhopea tigrina. In the past, the introduction of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykis) has affected the integrity of the site, while at present the greatest threats are posed by illegal logging, poaching and changes in land use for agricultural, cattle and urban uses. Ramsar site No. 1601.
Estero de Punta Banda. 02/02/06; Baja California; 2,393 ha; 31°44'N 116°38'W. This wetland preserves a variety of intertidal marshes, mud and sand flats, and seagrass beds that has completely disappeared from the biological corridor stretching from Ensenada to southern California, USA. Apart from the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), seal (Phoca vitulina) and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), the fauna includes a rich diversity of benthic invertebrates that support the entire food chain of the estuary. Punta Banda is the breeding, feeding and nursing ground of at least 150 species of fish, many of them of commercial importance. The site has also been used for at least the past 2000 years by the Kumiai indians, hunter-gatherers whose language gave origin to many of the languages now spoken in the area. Since the 1980s the construction of oil exploration and housing infrastructure has affected a considerable portion of the site, and still threatens its integrity. Ramsar site no. 1604.
Isla Rasa. 02/02/06; Baja California; 66 ha; 28º49'N 112º59'W. An island of volcanic origin with 3 coastal lagoons, located in a zone of high marine productivity. Over 80 species of terrestrial, land and marine bird species have been registered on the island and its surroundings, and according to some authors this site hosts almost the whole population of the Heermann's gull (Larus heermanni) and elegant tern (Sterna elegans), with tens of thousands of individuals in each case. The island also hosts two endemic reptile species: a gecko and a lizard (Uta stansburiana), but no native mammals. The exotic rodents Rattus rattus and Mus musculus, introduced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were successfully eradicated from the island in 1995. Ramsar site no. 1603.
Manglares y humedales de Tuxpan. 02/02/06; Veracruz; 6,870 ha; 21°00'N 097°21'W. The Tuxpan river separates the mangroves and wetlands of Tuxpan into the northern mangroves of the Tampamachoco lagoon and the southern mangroves associated with the Tumilco and Jácome estuaries. The importance of this site lies in its vast and well-preserved mangrove area, one of the largest in the Gulf of Mexico, with approximately 3,500 ha of mangroves reaching 8-15m in height. Some 179 fish species make this wetland one of the richest in fish diversity in the Atlantic coast of Mexico. Threatened species include the cantil snake (Agkistrodon bilineatus), the pale-billed woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis), the spiny-tailed or black iguana (Ctenosaura acanthura) and the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). Ramsar site No. 1602.