Laguna de Rocha is part of a vast complex of coastal wetlands which includes lagoons and rivers in Uruguay and southern Brazil. The 16,500-hectare (40,800-acre) Laguna de Rocha is designated a Paisaje Protegido (Protected Landscape) in the National System of Protected Areas of Uruguay and is part of the UNESCO Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve which encompasses the full system of coastal wetlands. It is not part of the Bañados del Este y Franja Costera Ramsar Site which extends just northeast of the Laguna.
Laguna de Rocha is a shallow, brackish lagoon that is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a sandbar that is periodically breached by storms and tidal action. The dynamics of the water level and origin creates a complex system which contributes to the site's high productivity and biodiversity.
The Laguna is an important site for 24 species of shorebirds, including many at-risk species. In particular, it supports 6.6% of the world’s Buff-breasted Sandpipers (Tryngites subruficollis). This makes Laguna de Rocha one of the most important sites for the species worldwide. In addition, the site is known for major concentrations of American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica). The site is important to both Nearctic migrants spending the Austral Summer in South America after breeding in the Arctic, as well as species who breed in Patagonia and then come north during the Austral Winter.
In 2012, Aves Uruguay and partners published a 90 page Handbook for Identification and Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds of Laguna de Rocha(pdf). The field guide, authored by Pablo Rocca and Joaquín Aldabe, identifies the many species of migratory shorebirds found at Laguna de Rocha and is an educational tool for raising awareness about the need to conserve these species and their habitats.
Ecology & Conservation
Video about Laguna de Rocha
Laguna de Rocha Official Dedication
Two activities took place in March 2010 to formalize and celebrate the designation of Laguna de Rocha as a WHSRN Site: one in the Municipality of Rocha and another in the city of Montevideo. Charles Duncan, Director of the WHSRN Executive Office, and Diego Luna Quevedo, Southern Cone Program Coordinator for Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, had the honor of participating in both.
On 13 March, more than 80 people gathered at the Cultural Center in La Paloma (Municipality of Rocha) to learn about the fundamentals and significance of the WHSRN designation and discuss the factors that challenge the effective conservation of the area. Participants included national and local authorities, nongovernmental organizations, local ranchers and fishermen, various experts, researchers, local leaders, and neighbors. At the end of the day, site partners received official WHSRN certificates for Laguna de Rocha’s designation and made a site visit, where a flock of over 200 Buff-breasted Sandpipers dazzled the group with their acrobatic flights. On 15 March, a second event at the Convention Center in Montevideo brought together diverse organizations and partners in conservation. Mr. Alain Latulippe, the Canadian Ambassador to Uruguay, was among many special guests. Canada and Uruguay actually share many migratory shorebird species, including the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
Site dedication activities were organized by an alliance of local and national partners including Aves Uruguay (who had led the site nomination process), Protected Areas System of Uruguay (SNAP), National Directorate of Environment (DINAMA), Municipality of Rocha, the Rocha Coastal Lagoons Friends’ Foundation, PROBIDES, and the General Directorate of Renewable Natural Resources (RENARE-Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries).
Dr. Jorge Cravino
Director, Department of Wildlife
General Directorate of Renewable Natural Resources
(598) 2 9156452/53
PROBIDES - www.probides.org.uy
SNAP - www.snap.gub.uy
Fundación Amigos de las Lagunas Costeras de Rocha - www.amigosdelaslagunasderocha.org
Alianza del Pastizal - www.pastizalesdelconosur.org
Asociación Averaves - averaves.fcien.edu.uy
Intendencia de Rocha - www.rocha.gub.uy
Facultad de Ciencias - http://limno.fcien.edu.uy
Centro Universitario Región Este – UDELAR: www.cure.edu.uy
Aves Uruguay - www.avesuruguay.org.uy
Vida Silvestre Uruguay - http://vidasilvestre.org.uy
Centro Universitario Región Este - www.cure.edu.uy