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Reentrâncias Maranhenses

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:

Brazil, Maranhao

Relative Location:

North-central Atlantic coast of Brazil, in the northwest part of the State of Maranhao


1.68 S, 45.07 W



Basis for Designation:

Supports 54% of all the Black-bellied Plovers, 72.5% of Ruddy Turnstones, 49.3% of Willets, and 43.7% of Whimbrels counted in South America


2,680,911 hectares (6,624,676 acres)


December 1991

Site Owner/Steward:

Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of the State of Maranhao (Secretaria de Estao do Meio Ambiente e Rercursos Naturais do Maranhão, SEMA)

Site Partners:

National Bird Conservation and Research Center (Centro Nacional de Pesquisa e Conservação de Aves Silvestres, CEMAVE)

Human Population within 100 km:



Janaína Gomes Dantas
Superintendent of Biodiversity and Protected Areas


The Reentrancias Maranhenses State Protected Area lies between the mouth of the Gurupi River and the Bay of San Marcos, including Cajual Island, at an altitude of 10 meters. The area is very diverse geomophologically, with bays and estuaries, mangroves, sandy beaches, and coastal dunes. There are also many low-lying islands. Tides are up to 8 meters.

Most of the 327,000 Nearctic shorebirds counted by Morrison and Ross in the north-central eco-unit of Brazil were found in this sector. According to Morrison, the area harbored 54% of all Black-bellied Plovers counted in South America, 72.5% of all Ruddy Turnstones, 49.3% of all Willets, and 43.7% of all Whimbrels. 

Morrison states, "In summary, the surveys clearly demonstrated that the north-central coast of Brazil is of major international importance as a wintering area for shorebirds and is of critical importance for several individual species." The many diverse habitats in the area support a large variety of bird species. Scarlet Ibis nest in the area.

The area also supports a great variety of other animal species such as marine turtles, manatee, and many species of fish and crustaceans.

Ecology & Conservation

Land Use

Some fishing and mangrove exploitation are practiced. There are mineral and salt extraction operations in the region. Areas with good access have potential for tourism, but most of the area is inaccessible.


Reentrancias Maranhenses is an Area of Environmental Protection (Area de Proteçao Ambiental) created in June of 1991. It is not a traditional conservation unit, such as a reserve or national park. The legislation allows a sustainable use of natural resources, but forbids heavily polluting enterprises and human activities other than traditional resource usage. The designation of environmental protection areas is an important tool for conservation and management, being instrumental in the effective implementation of sustainable use techniques within Brazil.

Current Threats

The area is fairly protected from conversion to agriculture by its high salinity and inaccessibility. There does exist some threat from possible overexploitation of mangroves and from the salt industries in the area. There are also mining activities in the area that bring a variety of associated threats. Shrimp farms could pose a threat if unregulated.



Janaína Gomes Dantas
Superintendent of Biodiversity and Protected Areas

Yassodhara Medeiros Brandão de Araújo
Cheif, DPCA
Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources of the State of Manahao (SEMA)

Antônio Augusto Rodrigues
Professor, Federal University of Maranhao

Mary Jane Costa Fonsêca
Manager, Reserva Extrativista (RESEX) do Cururupu

Additional Resources

Antas, P.T.Z., P. Roth, and R.I.G. Morrison, 1990. Status and Conservation of the Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) in Brazil. in IWRB special Publication: Symposium on Scarlet Ibis.

Morrison, R.I.G., P.T.Z. Antas, and R.K. Ross, 1987. Migration Routes in the Amazon Basin. Anais do Seminario Conservaçao e Desenvolvimento, CVRO.

Morrison, R.I.G. and R.K. Ross, 1989. Atlas of Nearctic Shorebirds on the Coast of South America. Vol 2. Canadian Wildlife Service Special Publication pp. 168-174.

Scott D. y M. Carbonell (Compilers). 1986. A Directory of Neotropical Wetlands. IUCN, Cambridge and IWRB, Slimbridge. 

Ferreira Rodrigues, A.A. 1992. Relatório sobre o projecto: distribuiçâo, abundancia e alguns aspectos sobre a biologia de aves costeiras na Ilha do Cajual, Alcantara - MA. Um informe dos 3 meses. 

Ferreira Rodrigues, A.A. 1993. Migraçoes, abundância sazonal e alguns aspectos sobre a ecologia de aves limícolas na baía de Sâo Marcos, Mahranhâo-Brasil. Dissertaçao do título de Meste em Ciências Biológicas da Universidade Federal do Pará. Belém.