The area of Bahía Lomas, a bay in the eastern portion of the Strait of Magellan in southern Chile, is located on the northern coast of Tierra del Fuego Island in Chile. Bahía Lomas and nearby Rio Grande once supported wintering populations of 67,000 red knots, making it the largest wintering area for knots in the Western Hemisphere. Now, less than 15,000 knots use Bahía Lomas. The population of nearby Rio Grande is functionally extinct. It is unknown whether habitat conditions or conservation threats at Bahía Lomas play a role in these declines.
Despite the conservation value of Bahía Lomas, very few resources are available to conservation groups interested in helping guide the long-term management of the site. Although no widespread direct human impacts are apparent in this region, these dynamic coastal habitats may be responding to sea level rise in a way that is changing the composition of the area. Moreover, nearby aging offshore oil platforms pump oil to facilities on shore that include extensive land-based pumps connected by an extensive and vulnerable pipeline system. Migratory shorebirds are very susceptible to disturbance caused by the increased air traffic associated with mining exploration and expansion in the area. The extent of these threats is currently unknown and agencies have few resources to estimate their impact.
Our team, in partnership with the Universidad Santo Tomás in Chile, and local agency staff and scientists, conducts conservation and research projects to protect this important habitat for red knots and other migratory shorebirds.