Save the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta

Off the coast of Colombia, a narrow winding river opens suddenly into a wide coastal lagoon. In the middle of the great expanse, wooden houses sit on stilts, colored laundry hanging in the hot Caribbean sun.

Layers of smooth water and mangrove forest stretch as far as the eye can see. Herons and shorebirds fly along the tree line, while terns rest one by one atop the posts of oyster traps protruding from the water.

All this is at grave risk. The causes are many—poorly planned infrastructure, unregulated agriculture, and illegal dikes, to name a few—and the victims are countless.

Once verdant, healthy mangroves have been reduced to brittle, gray sticks jutting raggedly out of the shallows. Every so often, a mass die-off of fish leaves the water’s surface covered in small, rotting carcasses.

“Before, this was known as the lagoon of fishes,” explained local elder Eudes Suárez Guerrero. “Not anymore.”

The government of Colombia needs to hear from you! Tell them to protect this priceless treasure. 

In addition to the 2,500 people living here who depend on the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta for food, water, and their livelihood, countless species of birds, plants, mammals and marine life call this vast coastal wetland home.

For years, the government has been uninterested in saving the Ciénaga Grande. So AIDA and our partners solicited a visit of wetland experts from the Ramsar Convention to analyze the health of the site.

That visit, combined with public advocacy, caused the government to bow to overwhelming pressure. Reversing their prior decision, Colombia announced that the Ciénaga Grande would be added to the Montreux Record, a list of the world's most at-risk wetlands.

That's great news, because the listing will provide Colombia with access to special funding and technical support for the site's conservation

Now we're calling on the government to act immediately to make the listing official, take advantage of available support, and begin restoring life to the Ciénaga Grande.