Coastal MPA
Río Gallegos
Municipal Protected Area

Cover Photo © Santiago Imberti


The Río Gallegos Urban Coastal Reserve is located in the estuary of the Gallegos and Chico rivers. It is made up of two parts, the Area for Recreational, Tourist, and Educational Uses on the south bank of the Gallegos River, and the Río Chico Urban Coastal Reserve, on the west bank of the mouth of the Chico River. The reserve complements the Provincial Reserve for Migratory Shorebirds, which is located on the east coast of the Chico River and south of the Gallegos River estuary, allowing migratory birds to use both banks of the estuary to feed and rest. Among the most important migratory species we can name the red shorebird, the sea coot and the white-rumped sandpiper. The southern oystercatcher and the double-collared plover are endemic species of southern Patagonia that winter in the estuary.

Geographic Location


Santa Cruz


-51.67° Latitude S

-69.20° 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.

Legal Aspects



Year of Creation


Creation Legislation

Municipal Ordinance 5356

International Recognition

Site of International Importance according to the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), 2005.
IBA site according to Birdlife International, 2005.

Eco-regions represented



Patagonian Steppe Ecoregion

Conservation Objectives

This protected area is located in the estuary of the Río Gallegos and Chico rivers, on the west bank of the mouth of the Chico river. The purpose of its creation is to protect a representative sample of marshlands and muddy intertidal plains, since they are a feeding and resting area for thousands of migratory and resident birds.

Due to its strategic location, it represents an ideal place to promote environmental education to the population, as well as participation in matters concerning environmental protection. The estuary has extensive muddy intertidal flats and marshes on the southern margin, which are feeding and resting sites for migratory and resident birds.

Among the most important migratory species we can mention the Red Knot (Calidris canutus), Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) and White-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis). They are species of long distance migratory shorebirds that unite both hemispheres in their seasonal flights and spend the summer in the estuary. The Magellanic oystercatcher (Haematopus leucopodus) and the Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis) are endemic species of South Patagonia and spend the winter in the estuary (Padin 2007)

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

76 % – 64 % – METT Evaluation (2014)

Sources consulted: Management Plan (2011).
Seabird colonies: See Bibliography