Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

WHSRNews Update

Bahía de Todos Santos designated as WHSRN’s 99th site

Recently, the WHSRN Hemispheric Council voted unanimously to approve the designation of the Bahía de Todos Santos (Mexico) as a site of Regional Importance within the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN). The site holds over 4% of the Pacific population of the nominate subspecies of Snowy Plover Charadrius nivosus, which is considered threatened in both Mexico and the USA, and Near Threatened at a global level.

The Bahía de Todos Santos is a large marine bay in extreme northwestern Baja California State, close to the city of Ensenada. The WHSRN designation covers 5169 acres (2091.9 ha) of the most important shorebird habitats, centered on the Estero Punta Banda, and including intertidal mudflats and estuaries, sandy and rocky beaches, sand dunes and salt marshes. Although the area is not formally considered a protected area, Estero Punta Banda receives protection as a Ramsar site.

In addition to its importance for Snowy Plover, the Bahía de Todos Santos regularly holds important numbers of the roselaari subspecies of Red Knot Calidris canutus (an endangered species in Mexico), the inornatus subspecies of Willet Tringa semipalmata, and Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa. At least historically, numbers for all three species reached the threshold for WHSRN status, and it is hoped that ongoing monitoring by Terra Peninsular and CICESE (the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada) will reveal this still to be the case. The area is also important as a breeding site for California Least Tern Sternula anti ll arum browni (Special Protected status in Mexico) and the threatened Belding’s Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi.

With the addition of the Bahía de Todos Santos, there are now 99 WHSRN Sites in 15 countries covering a total of nearly 36.8 million acres (14.9 million hectares) of shorebird habitat across the Americas. The Bahía de Todos Santos joins 17 other sites in Mexico, including 2 in Baja California, the Complejo Lagunar San Quintin, and the Alto Golfo de California y Delta de Río Colorado (shared with Sonora), though the nearest neighbor WHSRN site is South San Diego Bay in California (USA). The WHSRN nomination and associated community engagement activities at the Bahía de Todos Santos were part of a larger North American project under the Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI), led by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC AMBI project has worked to identify and designate important sites for Red Knot Calidris canutus (rufa and roselaari subspecies) and Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, and to engage the communities at these sites in Arctic-nesting shorebird conservation. CEC is a tri-national organization dedicated to the protection, conservation, and enhancement of North America’s environment.