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Laguna de Términos
Laguna de Términos is located in the southwest corner of the state of Campeche and is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the Isla del Carmen, which covers an area of 112.5 square km. The lagoon has two mouths that are permanently connected to the gulf: Boca de Puerto Real and Boca del Carmen. The water exchange and tidal activity that take place in both openings renew about fifty percent of the water volume of the Términos Lagoon every nine days. Situated in the transition zone between the limestone areas of the Yucatan Peninsula and the alluvial terrains of the Gulf of Mexico, it is the southernmost and largest of all littoral lagoons located in its entirety on the east coast of Mexico. It receives or connects to several rivers and lagoons.
Laguna de Términos includes several lagoons like Pom, Atasta, Puerto Rico, Este and Panlau. The system is formed by the lagoons of Pom, Atasta, Corte and Coloradas, the rivers Candelaria, Mamantal, Muerto and Palancares. The small lagoon of San Ignacio and the San Ignacio and Torno Largo swamps are situated northwest of Terminos. The Candelaria's basin is mainly located in the Yucatan Peninsula. Its waters along with those of its tributaries contribute an estimate 21.5 cubic meters per second to the lagoon. The northeast corner receives the waters of the Sabancuy River, the Colax, Lagartero, Chivoj Chico and Chivoj Grande streams. The San Joaquin and Salsipuedes rivers form the Chumpan River, which ends in the Balchacah Lagoon. Its journey covers an area of 1,874 square km and it has an annual drainage volume of 1,368 million cubic m. Together, river and lagoon form the Chumpan-Balchacah system, which connects to Terminos Lagoon at the southwest end. Furthermore, the Palizada River, part of the hydrological net formed by the rivers Mexcalapa, Grijalva and Usumacinta, also reaches Términos from the Southwest.
The lagoon is part of the most important hydrographic river basin of the country and it is a great source of natural resources. The region constitutes a large estuarine system of extensively diverse flora and fauna, which gave it the status of protected area in 1994. It is an area where most populations of migratory aquatic birds, crocodiles, freshwater turtles and gars live. Problems like intense deforestation around the Usumacinta River basin have caused a sediment deposit increase in runoff waters that affect coastal areas like the fluvial-deltaic system of the Palizada River, among others. The economic impact for the region has been severe, since important resources have to be allocated to dredging projects. The ecologic impact is even more serious, since the situation can potentially destroy critical habitats of the lagoon.
Coordinates: 18.61° N 91.58° W
Selected Characteristics: (Castaneda and Contreras, 2001)
Surface Area: 2,000 km2
Castaneda L.O. and F.E. Contreras. 2001. Serie: Bibliografia Comentada sobre ecosistemas costeros mexicanos 2001. Centro de Documentacion Ecosistemas Litorales Mexicanos. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa, Division C. B. S. Depto. de Hidrologia. Publicacion electronica (CD). ISBN:970-654-912-9. Mexico, D.F.
Gobierno del Estado de Campeche. Conociendo Campeche. 2 December 2003
Gobierno del Estado de Campeche
Keywords: Lagoon, Estuarine system, Deforestation, Sedimentation, Protected area, Biggest littoral lagoon, Southernmost lagoon
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