Laguna Madre (Mexico)

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Official nameLaguna Madre
Designated2 February 2004
Reference no.1362[1]

The Laguna Madre extends well into Mexico, to the mouth of the Río Soto la Marina in the state of Tamaulipas.[2] It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico on the east by a number of barrier islands, including Barra Los Americanos, Barra Jesús María, and Barra Soto la Marina, and is bounded on the west by mainland Tamaulipas. It is located in the municipalities of Matamoros, San Fernando, and Soto la Marina.


The Laguna Madre is very shallow, with an average depth of only 0.9 m.[3] The lagoon is connected to the ocean by only two narrow inlets, so the tidal range – which is already minor in this part of the Gulf of Mexico – is negligible.[4] Atmospheric effects are much more important than tides in its circulation; its weak currents generally follow the prevailing winds, and these winds can influence the water level by as much as a meter.[5]

Oceanographically, the Laguna Madre is considered a hypersaline lagoon; this indicates that it is usually much saltier than the ocean, due to being nearly landlocked in a semiarid environment[6] This is because its salinity can vary wildly depending on rainfall and freshwater inflow, from as high as 120 ppt (12%) – over three times saltier than the ocean – to as low as 2 ppt (0.2%) after a heavy rain.[7]


Laguna Madre is one of the most important bird wintering habitats in Mexico.[8] Thanks to lobbying and studies done by organizations such as Pronatura Noreste, universities, local governments, and other organizations, with the aid of local communities, in April 2005 the Mexican government declared Laguna Madre and the Río Bravo’s Delta a Natural Protected Area. The 1.4 million acres (5,700 km²) under legal protection are contained in the municipalities of Matamoros, San Fernando and Soto la Marina, in the state of Tamaulipas.


  1. ^ "Laguna Madre". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Gross, 312.
  4. ^ Gross, 312-13,
  5. ^ Gross 313.
  6. ^ Gross 312,-14.
  7. ^ Gross 314.
  8. ^ The Nature Conservancy in Mexico – Laguna Madre Archived February 18, 2005, at the Wayback Machine


Coordinates: 25°13′56″N 97°36′29″W / 25.232274°N 97.608032°W / 25.232274; -97.608032