Coastal MPA
Cabo Vírgenes
Provincial Reserve

Cover Photo © Santiago Imberti


The Cabo Vírgenes Provincial Reserve was created by the province in 1986 and is located within a private property, a cattle ranch called Monte Dinero. The reserve has unique shrub vegetation for the area. The green bush (Lepidophyllum cupressiforme) is the habitat chosen by the Magellanic penguin for nesting. This breeding colony is the southernmost in the country and the second in the Argentine continental sector in terms of the number of individuals (with approximately 200,000 specimens). Along the coast in the northern part of the reserve, there are aquatic forests of cachiyuyo brown algae. These forests are very important from a biogeographical and ecological point of view because they contain enormous biodiversity, with abundant fish and marine invertebrates. Other bird species present in the area are the southern espartillero, the cauquén colorado and the yal austral, all of them with conservation problems. Another species that is important to highlight is the scarce and little known Patagonian keú, of which there are no major records and its current conservation status is unknown. The fur seal and the southern dolphin are marine mammals that frequent the reserve on a permanent basis.

The protected area also has historical and cultural importance. In the vicinity of Punta Dúngenes, in 1584, the city of Nombre de Jesús was founded, which almost immediately became the first failure of Spain’s attempts to colonize Patagonia.

Geographic Location


Santa Cruz


-52.33° Latitude S

-68.36° Longitude W

Size and Limits

Total Area:


Marine Area:


Continental Area:


Area estimated based on the calculation of the area of the polygon represented on the map (ArcGIS PRO) with an Albers Equivalent Conic projection to preserve area calculations.

APN reports 12.3 km2 (APN See More)

Legal Aspects



Year of Creation


Creation Legislation

Ley Nº 1806

Photo © Santiago Imberti
Photo © G Harris WCS

Eco-regions represented



Patagonian Steppe Ecoregion

Conservation Objectives

Conservation of the rich fauna, especially the Magellanic Penguin, as well as preserving the historical cultural heritage.

Colonies and stopover sites

The following table presents the colonies or stopover sites of some emblematic species of birds and marine mammals present within the MPA boundaries.


Year of Management Plan approval


Management effectiveness and evaluation year

87 % – METT Evaluation (2014)

Sources of information consulted:
Biodiversity Information System (Leer Más).
Management Plan 2001

Magellanic penguin colonies: See Bibliography