Coastal MPA
Mar Chiquita
Wildlife Refuge and Nature Reserve

Cover Photo © Lautaro Rodriguez Astorino


Mar Chiquita constitutes a site of considerable importance for aquatic birds. Some species categorized as rare, such as the dwarf coots, are present in the area. The lagoon or albufera of Mar Chiquita is of shallow waters connected to the sea, with contributions of continental waters. Parallel to the sea and separated from it by a sandy ridge, this lagoon changes with the tide and covers an area of approximately 5,000 hectares. It is a very important reproductive and seasonal site for aquatic organisms, especially fish and crustaceans of commercial interest. The surrounding area is made up of espartillo steppes and brackish communities, while between the dunes there are small lagoons or temporary marshes that are generally fed by rainwater.

Geographic Location


Buenos Aires


-37.65° Latitude S

-57.31° Longitude W

Size and Limits

Total Area:


Marine Area:


Continental Area:


Mar Chiquita is a coastal protected area composed of the Mar Chiquita Wildlife Refuge (RVS) and the Mar Chiquita Nature Reserve (RN). The latter encompasses the large lagoon or albufera of Mar Chiquita.

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

OPDS reports 80.07 km
APN reports 90.07 km2 (see here) Pampa and Mar Argentino.

Legal Aspects



Year of Creation


Creation Legislation

Law 12270
The law creates the Nature Reserve, and as a complement of the Reserve, creates the Wildlife Refuge

IUCN Management Category

Marine Area

Continental Area

Eco-regions represented



Pampa Ecoregion

Conservation Objectives

Located in the district of Mar Chiquita, this natural area is a unique lagoon for conservation, and the only lagoon in Argentina. Argentina is distinguished for its Altantic Ocean coastline as well as receiving continental waters, which produce a mosaic of fresh, salty and brackish waters. A rich fauna of marine and freshwater species coexist in this environment, with birds such as Pink flamingos, Black skimmers, and Roseate spoonbills. Its landscape consists of beaches, dunes, brackish and freshwater marshes, streams and wetlands. The most important vegetation environments are the Talar ecosystem, reed beds, Cattails and Pampa grass. This Natural Reserve is an important feeding site for migratory birds from the northern hemisphere.

The Mar Chiquita Reserve constitutes one of the most special environments in the province. Different kinds of birds arrive year after year and add to an environment, that brings together fish and mammals, sea and beach, dunes and grasslands. This makes Mar Chiquita a different environment, as it is a coastal lagoon called albufera. This geographical feature is unique in Argentina and very rare in the rest of the world.

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.


Management effectiveness and evaluation year

64 % – METT Evaluation (2014)

Sources of information consulted: Law of Creation N° 010420/87
Seabird colonies: See Bibliography