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Laguna de Rocha

An ecosystem notable for its biodiversity

The Protected Laguna de Rocha Landscape is located on the Atlantic coast of the department of Rocha. It covers an area of around 22,000 hectares, which includes a 7,200 hectare body of water, hills, plains, the coastal strip and part of the ocean floor. The lagoon periodically comes into contact with the Atlantic Ocean through a system of opening and closing of the sandbar, due to the accumulation of water and the simultaneous action of the wind and waves of the sea. Its lack of depth –about half a meter - and mixture of marine and inland waters favor the development of a notable biodiversity. It constitutes an important ecosystem as a site for the feeding, nesting and resting of large numbers of birds, especially waterfowl. The nearby streams and marshes are inhabited by otters, capybaras, turtles, foxes and river otters: while in the fields there are an abundance of rheas and mules. They are also home to the Darwin’s frog, an endangered species worldwide. The oceanic part of the area is an important breeding site for species of commercially valuable fish and for cetaceans such as the right whale and the La Plata dolphin. As for the vegetation, along the edges of the lagoon there are floodplains, reeds and salt marshes. In the area closest to the beach grow pioneer species (which begin the sand-fixing process).

The area and its people

For over 70 years there has been a community of traditional fishermen in the sandbar area who live by taking advantage of the place’s aquatic resources: crustaceans such as shrimp and blue or siri crab, and fish such as sole, black and white croaker, menhaden and kingfish. In the fields surrounding the lagoon there are farms that focus on traditional pastoral livestock which constitutes one of the key elements for the good standard of conservation in the entire area. The site also has significant potential for nature tourism.