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Laguna de Términos

Laguna de Términos (Términos Lagoon) is made up of a series of rich, sediment-laden lagoons and tidal estuaries connected by two channels to the Bay of Campechemarker in the southern part of Gulf of Mexicomarker, in the southwestern part of the Mexicanmarker state of Campechemarker. Its shores are swampy and support mangroves. It is fed by several fresh water rivers, including the Mezcapala, Grijalvamarker and Usumacintamarker Rivers, and includes several lagoons such as Pom, Atasta, Puerto Rico, Este and Panlau. It is about 112.5 square km in area (about 50 miles long and 20 miles wide). Every nine days, approximately 50% of the lagoon's water volume is renewed, primarily through the effect of ocean tides. Twenty-nine percent of the lagoon is covered with seagrass. The lagoon was designated as a federally protected area for flora and faunda in 1994 by the Mexican government because of the importance of the biological ecosystems provided by its estuaries.

Laguna de Términos is the largest tidal lagoon located entirely on the east coast of Mexico, as measured by water volume. Exchanging water with several rivers and lagoons, the Laguna is part of the most important hydrographic river basin in Mexico. It is important commercially, as well as ecologically by serving as a refuge for an extensive number of flora and fauna; its mangroves provide an important role as a refuge for migratory birds.

On the surrounding barrier islands, beach ridges, and mangrove coastline there are several Late Postclassic Maya sites. The city of Ciudad del Carmenmarker is located on Isla del Carmenmarker, between the lagoon and the Bay of Campechemarker.


There have been identified 1,468 fauna species found within the protected area of Laguna de Términos; 30 species are endemic to Mexico and 89 are threatened; 132 species are consider to be commercially important. Identified are 279 bird species, 74 insect (considered an incomplete listing), and 34 mammal species. At least 367 species of fish are listed.

It is a known breeding and nursery area for the Yellow stingray (Urobatis jamaicensis); seagrass is reported to be important for its parturition.


The biggest influence on the area and a possible threat are the operations of state-owned oil company, Pemex operating within the protected area. The drilling of oil wells and the construction of pipelines can destroy habitat. Additionally, oil spills are a continual threat. Other possible threats include habitat change through population growth in the surrounding area. Laguna de Términos Flora and Fauna Protection Area as a whole is considered to be critically threatened.


Although PEMEX is both the biggest influence and the biggest threat to the protected area and its biodiversity, it is also economically important to Mexico. Currently there is a petroleum boom which presents an opportunity for the management of the protected area to offer to cooperate with the industry and coordinate use of the resources. There are local residents and NGOs who are aware of the potential problems and who are a strong voice, with public protests against PEMEX plans that emphasize the destruction to ecosystems and quality of life at other Pemex locations. PEMEX has acknowledged that they must take into account the opinions of the protected area's management and other voices when planning projects so as to minimize negative environment impacts.


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