S42 30 0 W64 0 0
Date of Inscription: 1999
x. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Property : 360,000 ha
The shores and waters around the Península Valdés nature reserve in Patagonia is a site of global significance for the richness of wildlife and for the conservation of marine mammals. Located in Argentinean province of Chubut, it is a 4,000 km2 promontory, protruding 100 km eastwards into the South Atlantic. The 400 km shoreline includes a series of gulfs, rocky cliffs, shallow bays and lagoons with extensive mudflats, sandy and pebble beaches, coastal sand dunes and small islands.
This site off the east coast of Argentina is a natural habitat to an important breeding population of one of the rarest whales in the world, the southern right whale, as well as important breeding populations of southern elephant seals and southern sea lions. A population of southern right whales uses the frigid, protected waters of for mating and calving. The southern elephant seal has its most northern colony here, reaches peak numbers of over 1,000 individuals and is the only colony in the world reported to be on the increase. The southern sea lion also breeds here in large numbers. The local population of orcas uses the beaches of Valdésto to develop a unique and spectacular approach to hunting. It adapts to local coastal conditions by racing into the shallow surf to snatch sea lions or young elephant seals, often throwing themselves onto the beach in the process.
Not only the park has an extraordinary abundance of marine animals, it also has a high diversity of birds, especially due to the peninsula’s intertidal mudflats and coastal lagoons which are important staging sites for migratory shorebirds. The Magellanic penguin is the most numerous with almost 40,000 active nests distributed among five different colonies. Terrestrial mammals are also abundant throughout the peninsula, especially the large herds of guanaco (a South American camelid), fox, rheas (small ostriches) and the mara, an Argentinean endemic, which is endangered in other parts of the country.