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Río Gallegos Estuary

Site Facts

Country, State, Province/Region:
Santa Cruz, Argentina

Relative Location:
Extreme southeast part of the continental coastal zone of Argentina

51º 39’ S, 69º 06’ W


Basis for Designation:
Home to more than 10% of the world’s population of Magellanic Plovers (Pluvianellus socialis) and important numbers of White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis), Red Knot (Calidris canutus), and Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica).

4,300 hectares; 10,626 acres

October 2005

Site Owner/Steward:
State property. The Río Chico Coastal Urban Reserve is managed by the Municipality of Río Gallegos and the Provincial Migratory Shorebird Reserve by the Agrarian Council of the Provincial Coordinating Committee for the Protected Areas of Santa Cruz.

Site Partners:
Municipality of Río Gallegos, Provincial Agrarian Council, and UNPA-UARG

Human Population within 100 km:
Approximately 90,000

Municipality of Río Gallegos, Provincial Agrarian Council, UNPA–UARG


About us

Magellanic OystercatcherEvery year during the first months of the austral spring, thousands of migratory shorebirds, of Patagonian as well as Nearctic origins, gather in the extensive intertidal mudflats and salt marshes of the Río Gallegos Estuary. These wetlands provide optimal conditions for feeding and resting, two activities crucial for the survival of these migrants who must replenish the energy consumed during their important and demanding journey. It is estimated that the Estuary gives shelter to more than 20,000 Nearctic and Patagonian shorebirds every year.

This biological richness makes the Estuary a site of great international importance, on a par with other areas along the migration route critical for shorebird conservation. The Estuary gives shelter and sustenance to a significant proportion of the world’s population of species such as the Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis) and the Magellanic Oystercatcher (Haematopus leucopodus), both endemic to southern Patagonia. In addition, it is a site used by large numbers of three other shorebird species: the White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis), the Red Knot (Calidris canutus), and the Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica). These three arrive from the northern hemisphere and use the Estuary as a migration stopover during the non-breeding season.

It is also the habitat of other equally important species such as the Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi), a vulnerable endemic found almost exclusively in Santa Cruz, and the Austral Canastero (Asthenes anthoides), an insufficiently known endemic living in the neighboring brush land. The breeding colonies of more than 20,000 pairs of seabirds that nest there further enhance the conservation value of the Estuary. Worth noting are the Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), the Blue-eyed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), the Chilean Skua (Catharacta chilensis), the Dolphin Gull (Leucophaeus scoresbii), and the Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus). In September, 2005 Birdlife International designated the Río Gallegos Estuary an Important Bird Area (IBA).


Aerial view

The Río Gallegos Estuary is located in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina in extreme southeastern continental Patagonia. It is orientated west to east, extending nearly forty kilometers from Güer Aike to where the river empties into the Argentine sea (Atlantic Ocean). Although smaller, the Río Chico also empties into the Atlantic and forms an estuary of great importance to bird life due its extensive tidal flats. The Estuary waters are shallow except for the channel located at the river mouth which is some 20 meters in depth. Two kilometers from the river mouth is Deseada Island. The Estuary’s northern bank protects this island of approximately 37 hectares, an important nesting site for various species of sea and shorebirds. The cool coastal climate here has a median temperature of 7.2 degrees centigrade and winds that blow nearly constantly from the west averaging 35 kilometers per hour. The capital city of the province, Río Gallegos, with a population of some 90,000 inhabitants, is located on the Estuary’s south bank.

The WHSRN site comprises two sections with different ownerships: the Provincial Reserve for Migratory Shorebirds (Province of Santa Cruz, Argentina) and the Río Chico Coastal Urban Reserve (Municipality of Río Gallegos).


Salt marshes and extensive intertidal mudflats: key to the maintenance of healthy populations of shorebirds in the estuary

The Río Gallegos Estuary is considered a macro-tidal estuary due to its extreme tides. Second only to Canada’s Bay of Fundy, the Estuary’s tides can rise up to 13.2 meters. Low tide reveals extensive intertidal silt/clay flats that in some places extend out for 1.5 km, transforming the mudflats into a rich shorebird feeding area accessible during many hours of the day.

Coastal boardwalkHalophyte vegetation forms extremely productive salt marshes where flats of fine sediment are protected from the waves. Only the species Salicornia ambigua colonizes the low sectors of the Río Gallegos Estuary salt marshes that the tides inundate daily. A shrub-like and grassy vegetation takes its place in the more elevated sectors. Meandering tidal channels furrow the salt marshes and form tidal pools where algae and invertebrates grow. Salt marshes and tidal flats are in evidence mostly along the southern edge of the Estuary, whereas escarpments and mainly gravel flats predominate along the high northern edge.

The salt marshes and tidal flats also play a very important role as resting areas for many bird species, in particular when the great tides cover the entire surface of the flats. For others, such as the Two-banded Plover (Charadrius falklandicus) and the White-rumped Sandpiper, these areas let them continue their feeding activities by providing an abundant food supply, including tidal pools insects.

Benthic communities: an ample food supply for shorebirds

Estuary sectors with silt/clay sediments and fine sand sustain an abundant benthic community (organisms that live at the bottom of a body of water), dominated by the clam Darina solenoides and by various polychaetes. These are the key nutritional resource of several shorebird species. The clam dominates the intertidal environment both in density and biomass, preferring sediments with high concentrations of sand. In contrast, coarser sediments host communities of the mussel Mytilus edulis platensis as well as gastropods, amphipods, isopods, crabs, and polychaetes. Among the last mentioned, Scolecolepides sp. is noteworthy because of its great numbers. During low tide the birds ceaselessly take advantage of this rich and diverse food supply. Thus, at specific times of the year such as the austral spring and autumn, thousands of individuals can be observed spreading out along the length and breadth of the large intertidal flats.

Importance of the area for migratory shorebirds

At least 20 species of shorebirds have been observed at the site, including some rarely recorded. Of the 20 species, fourteen use the site on a regular basis. It is the most important site anywhere during winter for Magellanic Plover.

Following is a list of the species, an asterisk denoting regular visitors.

Shorebird species recorded at the Rio Gallegos Estuary

Haematopus leucopodus Magellanic Oystercatcher
Haematopus palliatus Black oystercatcher
Haematopus ater Blackish oystercatcher
Vanellus chilensis Southern Lapwing
Pluvialis squatarola Black-bellied Plover
Pluvialis dominica American Golden-Plover
Charadrius modestus Rufous-chested Dotterel
Charadrius falklandicus Two-banded Plover
Oreopholus ruficollis Tawny-throated Dotterel
Pluvianellus socialis Magellanic Plover
Limosa haemastica Hudsonian Godwit
Numenius phaeopus Whimbrel
Tringa melanoleuca Greater Yellowlegs
Tringa flavipes Lesser Yellowlegs
Calidris canutus Red Knot
Calidris alba Sanderling
Calidris fuscicollis White-rumped Sandpiper
Calidris bairdii Baird's Sandpiper
Calidris melanotos Pectoral Sandpiper
Phalaropus tricolor Wilson's Phalarope

The following table lists those shorebirds with a significant representation at the site according to origin: Patagonian species and Nearctic species.

Patagonian species with significant representation in the Estuary

Waterbird Population Estimates (2002)

Species Biogeographic population in the Estuary Biogeographic population % Source
Magellanic Plover
pluvianellus socialis
1000 – 1500 6 to 14 Jehl (1975)
Wiersma (1996)
Two-banded Plover
Charadrius falklandicus
25,000 – 100,000 3.7 to 12 Waterbird Population Estimates (2002)
Magellanic Oystercatcher
Haematopus leucopodus
25,000 – 100,000 4 to 14

Nearctic species with a significant representation in the Estuary

Species Biogeographic population in the Estuary Biogeographic population % Source
Red Knot
Calidris canutus rufa
17,653 5 - 14 Morrison, pers. com.
White-rumped Sandpiper
Calidris fuscicollis
400,000 2 Waterbird Population Estimates (2002)
Hudsonian Godwit
Limosa haemastica
36,000 2.7 Waterbird Population Estimates (2002)

Environmental impact/Disturbance

Habitat loss and deterioration are among the threats confronting the Urban Reserve, due primarily to human activities in the coastal zone. The city of Río Gallegos grew chaotically along the coast. Ecologically productive areas were filled in for housing construction and were also used as urban solid waste dumps and as disposal sites for untreated sewerage. These uses not only harmed the natural habitat upon which a great number of birds depended, they also diminished the proportion of natural spaces suitable for recreation and tourist activities. In addition, they changed coastal dynamics affecting the natural processes of erosion and accumulation and thus had a direct impact on the quality of life of the city’s inhabitants. At the present time, the creation of the Reserve has stopped such practices. Now only the lots that had been approved prior to the Reserve’s establishment have continued to be filled in.

Coastal urban growth has also increased in disturbances affecting birds, especially during high tide when they gather in a limited number of spots very close to shore. Dogs and people frequently interrupt the birds’ resting and feeding. This phenomenon has already been studied in various places along the migratory routes and found to be very harmful.

SaltmarshThe dumping of untreated organic effluents directly on the beach also degrades habitat quality. At the present time an important public works project is under construction. The various sewerage outlets will merge into a main drain. An outfall pipe will then carry the filtered effluents 2 km out into the Estuary. This project uses heavy equipment and crosses several stretches of salt marshes and mud flats used by the birds.

In the Provincial Migratory Shorebird Reserve, the main threat comes from the oil industry. Crude oil and coal are loaded onto ships at a hydrocarbon port where the Estuary empties into the sea, adjacent to the salt marsh zone. The difficulties posed to navigation by extreme tides, strong winds, and tidal currents in the Estuary and the history of oil tankers running aground because of poor piloting is a clear warning concerning the risks involved. A shipwreck could easily contaminate key bird areas.

In the areas surrounding the Estuary, land has historically been used for cattle raising. During the past few years, significant areas of brush land next to the Provincial Reserve have been cleared and designated for agricultural use and for the establishment of small farms. This implies the loss of buffer zones for the Reserve, an increase in the human presence in the zone, as well as a possible rise in disturbances in zones critical for bird feeding and resting.

Land use

The zones most important to birds, in particular the tidal flats and salt marshes, are located within the reserves and are therefore public property. However, in the adjacent sectors varied land use can impact directly or indirectly on the quality and conservation of these sites.

Some of the uses most relevant are the following:

  • Port use: There are three ports in the Estuary. Fiscal Wharf and El Turbio Wharf are both located in the city of Río Gallegos and generally have little activity. President Illia Wharf, located in Punta Loyola, is the busiest port with constant activity. Here ships are loaded with hydrocarbons offshore via a monobuoy and also with coal from the Río Turbio coal fields.
  • Recreational use: Various recreational activities take place in urban sites near the coast and in the periphery of the city, including boating, sport fishing, hiking, and dog walking. These seasonal activities are concentrated in the mildest months of spring and summer.
  • Small-scale coastal artisanal fishing: Catching fish and gathering mollusks by means of simple labor intensive techniques takes place in city neighborhoods as well as at the mouth of the Estuary, including the tidal flats used by the birds. The fish are caught near the shore using both hoop nets and gill nets in the intertidal areas.
  • Cattle ranching: This occurs mainly on lands bordering the Estuary’s northern edge, since the lands nearest the Provincial Reserve were divided into lots and sold to local micro entrepreneurs to establish small farms and houses.
  • Urban use: This occurs mainly near the Urban Reserve, both on lands that have been built up parallel to the shore and in marshy zones that have been filled in for residential use.

Habitat protection

There are three protected areas in the Estuary and two species protected under provincial or municipal legislation:

  • Deseada Island Provincial Reserve, whose management category is “Area of Scientific Use Under Special Protection”, according to Provision Nº 007 of the Provincial Agrarian Council.
  • Migratory Shorebird Provincial Reserve, established by Law Nº 2583/2001.
  • Coastal Urban Municipal Reserve located along the western edge of the mouth of the Río Chico, established by Ordinance Nº 5356.

Additionally, two species, the Hooded Grebe, Podiceps gallardoi, and the Commerson's Dolphin, Cephalorhynchus commersoniil, are protected under law Nº 2582 as Natural Monuments.

There are no coast guard personnel currently assigned to the Urban Reserve area.

Conservation measures

Migratory shorebirds utilize very specialized wetlands during the annual migration and concentrate in large numbers at a given moment at these sites. Because of this they are highly vulnerable and considered indicators of wetland health. Therefore, habitat management strategies are needed, such as the protection and conservation of areas identified as important. It is also imperative that the communities involved and especially their political decision-makers develop an environmental awareness.

During the past several years various actions have been undertaken to achieve these ends and thus to reverse the progressive destruction of these rich ecosystems. Municipal and provincial governmental institutions, the National University of Southern Patagonia - Río Gallegos campus, and various non-governmental organizations (Fundacíon Patagonia Natural, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Fundacíon ECOPASUR, Fundacruz, Aves Argentinas) have worked together for a common goal: to reassess the coastal environment and promote its management and conservation. Among the specific objectives are a) to conserve and recover ecologically sensitive areas; b) to generate new recreation areas accessible to the entire community; c) to improve and promote tourist attractions; and d) to create tools for interpreting the urban coastal environment. In the course of this work, researchers at the University of Southern Patagonia have played an important mobilizing role by advising government officials and legislators concerning the results of their studies.

Given that society in general has placed little environmental value on these areas, those involved in these conservation efforts thought that it was vitally important for the success of their work to incorporate a strong component of mass media communication in order to publicize the advances being made through the Estuary studies. The information gathered had to be accessible and at the same time clearly demonstrate to the community the environmental threats and the use practices needed to minimize these problems.

Prioritizing participation in radio programs and the print media has permitted access to a greater number of people. Investigative articles have been written and published in provincial and local newspapers. One thousand informational brochures were distributed with the collaboration of the Publishing House of the Honorable Chamber of Deputies of Santa Cruz. This information was distributed to a targeted audience, taking advantage of special events such as courses, lectures, workshops, etc. Part of the material generated was given to the governmental body in charge of managing each particular area. They in turn distributed the material to governmental bodies in other provinces, thus acquainting them with the biodiversity of the Estuary at their regional level.

In order to strengthen outreach activities, local micro-documentaries were made and periodically aired on regional television permitting the public more direct access. This was an excellent tool for achieving greater sensitivity to the issue and a higher level of mobilization. 

Similarly, a book on the birdlife of these wetlands and the area’s ecological importance was published with 1100 copies being distributed to every local and provincial educational institution, as well as to public libraries, mass media, state governmental bodies, etc.

Another means of communication has been work-team presentations at local informational events such as conferences and workshops. These are usually open to the community and allow the communication of information in a straightforward manner to a large audience. Among these the most noteworthy were the Mechanisms for Public Participation Workshops sponsored by Fundación Patagonia Natural. Present at these workshops were provincial and municipal officials, non-governmental institution staff, universities, schools, neighborhood committees, etc. In the course of the workshops, the main topic of discussion, to be considered at a public hearing, was coastal land use and the conflicts raised by the conservation of this environment.

Human resource training was taking place parallel to these informational activities. The goal was to reach the largest number of the actors identified in order that they begin to become active participants in the resolution of the different environmental conflicts. The courses offered were based on theoretical and practical models. Field trips to key shorebird sites as well as to other sites posing serious conservation problems were among the most important training tools.

In summary, the most significant advances achieved through this common effort and that lead to conserving these wetlands are as follows:

  • In 2001, creation of the first Provincial Reserve dedicated to migratory shorebird species and habitat protection.
  • In 2004, creation of the first Santa Cruz Urban Reserve dedicated to the protection of this kind of environment. Its purpose is: to conserve natural areas that might be threatened in the near future, to promote improvement in the human/environment relationship by taking advantage of its potential as an educational tool, and to develop tourism.
  • Putting a halt to the filling in of wetlands.
  • Carrying out a municipal environmental education program on a permanent basis.
  • Raising funds for the construction of a Coastal Environment Interpretive Center.
  • Carrying out studies for the relocation of the municipal dump.
  • Signing of a tripartite agreement (Municipality – National University of Southern Patagonia – Government of Santa Cruz) to plan and manage the Río Gallegos urban coastal zone.
  • Communicating the ecological value of the reserves via the production and distribution of brochures in the community.
  • Carrying out a training program for park rangers as well as for municipal and provincial conservation agents.
  • Training university students in subjects related to the Estuary and shorebirds.
  • Printing a book on birds and the Estuary environment and distributing it to all provincial and urban educational institutions.
  • Raising funds for continuing the Estuary studies and for collaborating in the formulation of management plans for both reserves.

Shorebird and related research

The systematic study of area shorebirds was initiated in 1998 with the appearance of a Masters’ Thesis in Wildlife Management by Silvia Ferrari entitled, “Identification of optimal areas for the conservation of migratory shorebirds in the Rio Gallegos Estuary, Santa Cruz.” This paper laid the foundation for the first provincial shorebird reserve.

Researchers from the National University of Southern Patagonia – Río Gallegos campus are working on other related projects. They include “The importance of benthic communities for shorebirds feeding in the Río Gallegos Estuary, Santa Cruz,” which has among its objectives the monitoring of both Nearctic as well as Patagonian shorebirds; and studies on the available food supply and diet of several of the species. University researchers are also implementing a project called “Multinational Conservation of Red Knots Calidris canutus,” in coordination with the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. This project involves monitoring this species, environmental education activities, training of local actors, and constructing an Environmental Interpretive Center. They are also working on a study entitled, “Conservation of transcontinental and Patagonian migratory birds: land management and planning in the Río Gallegos and Río Chico estuaries (Santa Cruz, Southern Patagonia),” within the framework of Project PNUD ARG 02/018. This study seeks to contribute to the land management and planning of the Estuary’s protected areas through gathering information generating base criteria for the management and conservation of migratory bird reserves. It will last three years and will involve the participation of universities and municipal and provincial governmental institutions. The researchers foresee a stage of comprehensive environmental data collecting and another stage of communicating the results and management proposals. To implement this stage, they propose holding workshops in which the community can participate.

Two Banded Plover

Documents and references

Albrieu, C.; R. Núñez; S. Ferrari y P. Racamato. 2003. Censos invernales de aves costeras en humedales del sureste de Santa Cruz. En Actas de las II Jornadas Patagónicas sobre Mallines y Humedales. UNPA – UARG.

Albrieu, C., S. Imberti y S. Ferrari. 2004. Las Aves de la Patagonia Sur, el Estuario del Río Gallegos y zonas aledañas. Ed. Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia Austral, Río Gallegos. 204 pp.

Albrieu, C.; S. Ferrari; P.Racamato y F.Cola. 2004. Población invernal de Pluvianellus socialis en la Reserva para Aves Playeras Migratorias (Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz). En: Actas de la II Reunión Binacional de Ecología. Pp: 237. Mendoza, Argentina.

Albrieu, C.; S. Ferrari y G. Montero. En prensa. Articulación interinstitucional para la conservación y ordenamiento del estuario del río Gallegos (Patagonia austral, Argentina). CYTED. Santiago, Chile.

Brown, S., C. Hickey, B. Harrington and R. Gill (eds.). 2001. United States Shorebird Conservation Plan 2nd. Ed. Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachussets.

Caille, G.; S. Ferrari y C. Albrieu. 1995. Los peces de la Ría de Gallegos, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Naturalia Patagónica. Ciencias Biológicas 3: 191 – 194 Pp.

Faggi, A. M. 1985. Las comunidades vegetales de Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz. Páginas 592-633 en Boelcke O.; D. M. Moore y F. A. Roig. Editores. Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Fernández Clark, E.; S. Ferrari y C. Albrieu. 2000. Problemática ambiental derivada de la actividad petrolera. En: El Gran Libro de Santa Cruz. Ed. Milenio y ALFA Centro Literario. Tomo 2: 1187 - 1198.

Ferrari, S. 2000. La pesca artesanal en la zona costera de Santa Cruz. En: El Gran Libro de Santa Cruz. Ed. Milenio y ALFA Centro Literario. Tomo 2: 966 - 979.

Ferrari, S. y C. Albrieu. 2000. El ambiente acuático marino. En: El Gran Libro de Santa Cruz. Ed. Milenio y ALFA Centro Literario. Tomo 1: 320 - 332.

Ferrari, S. y C. Albrieu. 2000. Viajeros incansables: chorlos, playeros y otros Charadriformes. En: El Gran Libro de la Provincia de Santa Cruz. Ediciones Milenio y Alfa Centro Literario. Tomo I:360 - 369.

Ferrari, S. N. 2001. Identificación de áreas óptimas para la conservación de aves playeras en el estuario del río Gallegos, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Tesis de Maestría. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba.

Ferrari, S. 2002. Identificación de áreas óptimas para la conservación de aves playeras migratorias en el estuario del río Gallegos. Segundo Congreso patagónico de Ecología. Río Gallegos. UNPA - UARG y ECOPASUR . En CD.

Ferrari, S.; C. Albrieu and P. Gandini. 2002. Importance of the Río Gallegos Estuary, Santa Cruz, Argentina, for migratory shorebirds. Wader Study Group Bull. 99: 35 – 40.

Ferrari, S.; S. Imberti and C. Albrieu. 2003. Magellanic Plovers Pluvianellus socialis in southern Santa Cruz Province, Argentina, Wader Study Group Bull. 101/102: 70–76

Ferrari, S.; Z. Lizarralde y C. Albrieu. 2003. Dieta de Becasa de Mar (Limosa haemastica) en el estuario del río Gallegos (Santa Cruz, Argentina). Resúmenes V Jornadas Nacionales de Ciencias del Mar, Mar del Plata, Pp 106.

Ferrari, S.; S. Imberti y C. Albrieu. 2003. Valoración del estuario de los ríos Gallegos y Chico (Santa Cruz, Argentina) basado en aves acuáticas, II Jornadas Patagónicas sobre Mallines y Humedales, Río Gallegos. UNPA – UARG. En CD.

Ferrari, S., C. Albrieu y S. Imberti., 2005. Áreas de importancia para la conservación de las aves de Santa Cruz: estuario del río Gallegos. En: A.S. Di Giacomo (Editor). Áreas de importancia para la conservación de las aves en Argentina, sitios prioritarios para la conservación de la biodiversidad: 412 – 413. Temas de Naturaleza y Conservación 5. Aves Argentinas/ Asoc. Ornitológica del Plata, Buenos Aires.

Ferrari, S.; B. Ercolano y C. Albrieu. En prensa. Pérdida de hábitat por actividades antrópicas en las marismas y planicies de marea del estuario del río Gallegos (Patagonia austral, Argentina). CYTED. Santiago, Chile.

González, P.M., M. Carbajal, R.I.G. Morrison y A.J. Baker. 2004. Tendencias Poblacionales Del Playero Rojizo (Calidris canutus rufa) en el sur de Sudamérica. Ornitologia Neotropical (Suppl.) 15:357-365.

Imberti, S.; E. Rodríguez; S. Sturzenbaum y M. Llaneza. 2000. Primeros registros invernales de Macá Tobiano Podiceps gallardoi en el estuario del Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz, Argentina, en los resúmenes de las IV Jornadas Nacionales de las Ciencias del Mar, Puerto Madryn, Chubut.

Imberti, S. 2003. Notes on the distribution and natural history of some birds in Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego provinces, Patagonia, Argentina. Cotinga 19:15–24.

Imberti, S., S. Sturzenbaum y M. McNamara. 2005. Actualización de la distribución invernal del Macá Tobiano Podiceps gallardoi y notas sobre su problemática de conservación. El Hornero.

Jehl, J. R. 1975. Pluvianellus socialis: biology, ecology and relationships of an enigmatic Patagonian shorebird. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist. Trans. 18: 31–72.

Lizarralde, Z. 2003. Distribución espacial de Darina solenoides en el estuario del río Gallegos (Santa Cruz, Argentina). Actas II Jornadas Patagónicas de Mallines y Humedales, Río Gallegos. UARG – UNPA.

Morrison R.I.G., Y. Aubry, R.W. Butler, G.W. Beyersbergen, G.M. Donaldson, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, P.W. Hicklin, V.H. Johnston And K. ROSS., 2001. Declines in North American shorebird populations. Wader Study Group Bull. 94: 34–38.

Oliva, G. 1993. Aves patagónicas. Santa Cruz, Argentina. Ediciones Universidad Federal de la Patagonia Austral, Santa Cruz, Argentina.

Perillo, G.M. E.; M. D. Ripley; M. C. Piccolo and K. R. Dyer. 1996. The Formation of Tidal Creeks in a Salt Marsh: New Evidence from the Loyola Bay Salt Marsh, Rio Gallegos Estuary, Argentina. Mangroves and Salt Marshes Vol. 1 Nro. 1 pp 37-46. SPB Academic Publishing bv, Amsterdam

Pittaluga, T.S. y Z.I. Lizarralde. 2004. Variaciones temporales en el reclutamiento de mejillón Mytilus edulis platenses en un banco costero del estuario del río Gallegos, Santa Cruz. II Jornadas de Humedales, Río Gallegos, UARG – UNPA. En CD.

Wetlands International 2002. Waterbird Population Estimates – Third Edition. Wetlands International Global Series No. 12. Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Wiersma, P., 1996. Family Charadriidae, species account. En Handbook of the Birds of the World, del Hoyo, J., A. Elliot y J. Sargatal (Eds.), vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Editions, Barcelona.

Special Information

30-second video
A public service announcement video was created by Martín Albrieu in collaboration with the City of Río Gallegos, the Province of Santa Cruz, the National University of Austral Patagonia (UNPA) and WHSRN.  It’s purpose is to build awareness of the importance of the Río Gallegos Estuary, and to change the perception of the local people regarding the value of the site.; The video airs on television stations that reach the entire Province.  

Its text (in Spanish) says:

“Where we thought there was nothing

The birds surprise us

With a World without borders

Río Gallegos Estuary: a refuge for migratory shorebirds.”

Contact Us

Municipality of Río Gallegos
Municipal Environmental Protection Agency
Piedra Buena esquina costanera (9400)--Río Gallegos
Santa Cruz, Argentina


Provincial Agrarian Council
Provincial Coordinating Committee for the Protected Areas of Santa Cruz
Roca 976 (9400) – Río Gallegos
Santa Cruz, Argentina


National University of Southern Patagonia - Río Gallegos campus
Lisandro de la Torre 1070 (9400) – Río Gallegos
Santa Cruz, Argentina


Links to Additional Resources

Website of the Environmental Agency of the Municipality of Río Gallegos with information and photos about the Urban Coastal Reserve