Wetlands are areas where water is the main controlling element of the environment. They are both natural and artificial ecosystems that are characterized by being permanently or temporarily flooded, either by fresh waters, estuarine or saline, which may be stagnant or current.

Its boundaries constitute the type of hydrophilic and / or halophytic vegetation, including riparian, coastal and marine regions. They may or may not be subject to the influence of tides that do not exceed six meters of depth with respect to the average level of the low tides.

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Ramsar convention

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar, Irán, 1971) – Called the Ramsar Convention- Is an intergovernmental treaty that serves as a framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971, and is the only global environmental treaty dealing with a particular type of ecosystem. Mexico is among the signatory countries of this treaty, and is committed to work actively to ensure the conservation and wise use of wetlands designated as Wetlands of International Importance*, as well as include in its national environmental planning the use its wetlands, among other commitments.

Ramsar Convention

Ramsar Wetlands of Baja California

In Baja California there are currently seven Wetlands of International Importance, also called Ramsar Sites. Which has been designated in this category, for the great ecological and social value they have.

Punta Banda Estuary

The Punta Banda Estuary is located approximately 15 km south of the city of Ensenada, at the southeast end of Todos Santos Bay. It was designated as Wetland of International Importance, on February 2, 2006, by the Ramsar Convention. The Estuary has an “L” shape and covers a total area of approximately 20 km2. The sandy bar, which measures 7 km long by 0.5 km wide, presents different habitats, ranging from muddy plains, coastal dunes, sandy beach, salt marsh, tidal channels and a main channel.

The fauna includes a high diversity of invertebrates and fish, which find here a reproduction, feeding and breeding area. The Estuary is also a zone of hibernation and nesting of birds. In addition, mammals such as the sea lion, the seal, the bottlenose dolphin, and the common dolphin, use the interior waters of the estuary as feeding areas and temporary habitats. 144 species of birds, 150 species of fish and 23 species of plants have been detected.

The Punta Banda Estuary has been considered by the Priority Regions Program for the Conservation of Biodiversity, of the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO by its acronym in Spanish ), of Mexico. Likewise, it has been designated as an Important Area for the Conservation of Birds (AICAs by its acronym in spanish) of category 5.

Photography: Liliana Ortiz

San Quintin Bay

The San Quintín Bay is located in the Delegation of San Quintin, Municipality of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, on the west coast of the peninsula, 180 km south of the city of Ensenada. It was designated as Wetland of International Importance, on February 2, 2008, by the Ramsar Convention. The bay is divided into two coastal lagoons surrounded by two sand bars: Bahia falsa and Punta Azufre. The access to the lagoons is permanently open, connected to the sea by a channel 15 m deep, which decreases as you head inland. The dominant characteristic of San Quintín Bay, are its muddy plains. The vegetation characteristic of this habitat is of two types: the marine, formed by extensive banks of marine grass, and the marsh lands, that includes almost half of the lowest margins of the bay and are subject to the regime of the tides.

The San Quintín Bay is home to the most important breeding populations of seven species of threatened or endangered birds: Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus obsoletus), Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), Least Tern (Sternula antillarum), Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi), California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica atwoodi) and the Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus) (Massey y Palacios, 1994). It is a hibernation site for 30-50% of the total population of Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) that arrives in Mexico México (Massey y Palacios, 1994); also, it hosts more than 25,000 migratory shorebirds during the winter (Page et al., 1997).

The San Quintín Bay has been considered as a Priority Region for conservation by CONABIO.

Photography: Edith Fernández

Laguna Hanson, National Park “Constitución de 1857”

The Hanson Lagoon is within the National Natural Protected Area “Constitución de 1857”, which is located in the northern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the municipality of Ensenada. The Hanson Lagoon is considered a Ramsar site since February 2, 2010, where the body of water and the floodplain cover an area of 510.98 ha. The Hanson Lagoon is located at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level; Its shape is elongated with north-south orientation, it has an approximate length of 3 km; and about 1.5 km wide in its (east-west) part. The mirror of water is fed mainly by runoff from small streams and with winter flows from the surrounding elevations.

Hanson Lagoon represents the largest semipermeable natural body of water in all the forested areas of the State of Baja California. The size and time of stay of the Hanson Lagoon, allow this wetland to have great ecological importance, due to the great variety of birds that arrive at this site, as well as favoring the recharge of the aquifer.

The Sierra de Juárez massif is considered an Area of Importance for the Conservation of Birds (AICAS 2004, CONABIO).

Fotografía: Liliana Ortiz

Wetlands of the Colorado River Delta

They are located on the border between Baja California and Sonora. It occupies most of the floodplain of the Colorado River Delta all the way to its mouth in the Upper Gulf of California. It is a marine-coastal wetland with flooded areas, as well as seasonal, intermittent floods. It also has seasonal, intermittent, and irregular rivers and streams. The Colorado River Delta presents flood plains, tidal channels and islands, among which are Pelican Island and Montague.

Photography: Adolfo M. Ayala Bejarano

Wetlands Remnants of the Colorado River Delta

They are located in the agricultural valley of Mexicali, within the area of the Colorado River Delta. This is a typical dune field with low hills and mountain ranges to the west, is mostly natural, although currently depends on the leftovers released by the Morelos dam, and in some areas artificial, dependent on the waters of agricultural return Or the transport of irrigation water. The total area covered by the wetlands of this system is approximately 127,614 hectares.

Photography: Jesús R. Torres Aguirre

Coastal Corridor La Asamblea-San Francisquito (CCLASF)

It is located in the southeastern portion of the Municipality of Ensenada, in front of the Great Islands Region of the Gulf of California. It is 16 km long by 6.4 km in its widest part. The total area of the polygon reaches 44.303.81 hectares.

The CCLASF It has a combination of estuaries, marshes, small coastal lagoons, hypersaline pools, sandy beaches, dune areas, islands, islets, coastal and insular reef formations, soft marine bottoms, muddy bottoms, mangroves and seaweed beds, all of them in intimate relationship with one of the most productive marine systems in all of Mexico, and framed in an extremely arid desert ecosystem. It is this combination of environments, ecosystems and ecological relationships that gives “Coastal Corridor La Asamblea San Francisiquito” a unique character, which deserves to be recognized internationally.

It was designated as Wetland of International Importance, on November 27, 2005, by the Ramsar Convention. The National Commission for Knowledge and the Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO for its acronym in Spanish) has designated the area as “Priority Region for Conservation in Mexico”, “Priority Marine Region for Conservation in Mexico”, and “Priority Area for the Conservation of Birds”.

Photography: Liliana Ortiz

Isla Rasa

The island is located in the northern half of the Gulf of California, southeast of Isla de la Guarda and northwest of Isla Salsipuedes. 60 km southeast of Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California. The island is of volcanic origin and is located in an area of high marine productivity. From the ornithological point of view, the island is located in a region included within the migration corridor of the Eastern Pacific.
It has three coastal lagoons, and was declared a Ramsar site on February 2, 2006. The coasts of the island, which are rocky, and the aforementioned lagoons, serve as resting and feeding sites for a large number of migratory birds, mainly shorebirds. Some of the banks of these lagoons have patches of halophytic plants. In the terrestrial zone, the island presents very little vegetation of the Sonoran Desert type. The greatest importance of this island is that it is the nesting site of approximately 95% of the world population of the Heermann’s  Gull (Larus heermanni) and the Elegant Tern (Thalasseus elegans) with 260,000 and 200,000 individuals, respectively. In addition, it also presents a nesting colony of Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) that fluctuates annually between 10,000 and 17,000 individuals (Velarde et al., In press).

Photography: José Arce Smith

Small Wetlands of Baja California

  • Cantamar
  • El Descanso
  • La Misión
  • La Salina
  • San Miguel
  • La Lagunita
  • Santo Tomás
  • El Salado
  • San Rafael
  • San Telmo
  • Santo Domingo
  • San Simón
  • El Rosario


Legislación aplicable al tema de humedales
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Política Nacional de Humedales
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Convenio de RAMSAR
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Legislación ambiental internacional y nacional