Laguna José Ignacio is a brackish body of water located in the department of Maldonado. Its landscapes are varied, with alternating sandy beaches, wetland ecosystems and grasslands. The narrow sandbar separating it from the Atlantic Ocean opens frequently, resulting in ecosystemic variations with unique characteristics.
This variety of habitats is home to specific fauna and flora, resulting in a landscape of great beauty and biodiversity. Its proximity to the village of José Ignacio, the most fashionable seaside resort of the Uruguayan coast, makes it a very popular lagoon but generates a high degree of impacts on the smallest of our lagoons.
In this area there are several species with restricted distribution that are listed as threatened. Among them we may mention Larus atlanticus (Olrog’s gull), abundantly recorded in this lagoon. There are also abundant records for the Chilean flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), constituting the most important area for this species in Uruguay (Azpiroz 2005, en CNAA 2005; Rilla 2004, en CNAA 2004). The black and white monjita (Xolmis dominicanus) is another threatened species that occurs regularly in the area. Other regularly occurring species that present conservation problems at the global level are the bay-capped wren-spinetail (Spartonoica maluroides) and the straight-billed reedhaunter (Limnoctites rectirostris).
It integrates the National Lake Park since 1977. BirdLife International lists it as IBA code UY017. IBAs are Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, which provide the BirdLife Partnership and local partners with a focus for conservation action, planning, and advocacy.
It is a favourite spot for surfers known as “El Pepe”, as the sandbanks in the ocean outside the lagoon’s sandbar create an ideal wave for this sport. It is also a popular kitesurfing spot.