Global Nature Fund - Laguna de Rocha (Uruguay)

Laguna de Rocha – Uruguay


Background Laguna de Rocha

Laguna de Rocha with a surface area of 72 sq. km is situated in the South-East of Uruguay and is separated by a sand bar from the Atlantic Ocean. During the last 6,000 til 8,000 years the lagoon was formed through rise in sea level. Laguna de Rocha with a mean depth of 0.6 metres is a shallow lagoon, its maximum depth measures 1.4 metres.


Many of the lagoons, including Laguna de Rocha, located in the South-East and East of Uruguay´s coast, have the status of Biosphere Reserves designated by Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) of UNESCO.


Through natural waves but also through artificial dam failures, the water of Laguna de Rocha mingles temporarily with the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, the amount of the salt concentration in the lagoon water influences the biological conditions as well as the physical and chemical parameters.

Laguna de Rocha is known for its richness of fish, crab, shrimp and molluscs, which were not only used by the fishermen on the southern shore lines. Many birds, also Black Neck Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) and the endemic Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) find here a rich food supply. More than 200 species of breeding and migratory birds, also threatened species such as Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), Olrog´s Gull (Larus atlanticus) and Black-and-white Monjita (Heteroxolmis dominicana) use the lagoon.

In the catchment area of the lagoon, the agricultural areas such as crop fields (rice and maize) and pasture land (cattle and sheep) are predominant. Only 6 % of the area is covered by forests. Because of the increasing demand for drinking water, Laguna de Rocha suffers from pollution and over-fertilization as well as water shortage. The lagoon has five tributaries, Arroyo and Las Conchas are the most important rivers inflowing the lagoon.

 The sand barrier between Laguna de Rocha and the Atlantic Ocean.
 Swarm of birds at Laguna de Rocha
 Fishermen at Laguna de Rocha

Laguna de Roche designated as a Nature Reserve

The decree signed by the President of the Republic of Uruguay, Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, on 18 February, 2010 designates the Laguna la Rocha as a nature reserve. It is the seventh member in the national network of nature areas. 


Among the many actors involved in the long negotiations were regional and national governments, universities and colleges, farmers, traditional fishermen, neighbouring regions and social facilities. 


Laguna de Rocha is protected under the Ramsar Convention and has joined as first water body in Uruguay the network Red Hemisférica de Aves Playeras, a network for the conservation of shorebirds.



Partner Organisation Laguna de Rocha


Fundación Lagunas Costeras

Contact person: Ms Mechthild Adameit

Ruta 10 km. 216, Balneario Las Garzas

Séptima Sección de Rocha

Departamento de Rocha, Uruguay



 Fundación Lagunas Costeras