Panama has extended the boundaries of Bahía de Panamá (Panama Bay) from 49,919 hectares to 85,664 ha. The Bay (number 1319 on the List of Wetlands of International Importance) is located along the Pacific coast to the east of Panama City. It now includes a much greater area of estuaries, mangroves, forests, marshes and freshwater lagoons.
Panama Bay is one of the most critical migration sites in the western hemisphere, with an estimated presence of between one and two million shorebirds. The Site provides habitat for 14% of the global population of the western sandpiper (Calidris mauri) with more than a million individuals, and over 30,000 semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) representing 20% of its global population.
The Bay is lined with mangrove forests where at least seven mangrove species are found, two of which are classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List: Avicennia bicolor and Pelliciera rhizophorae (tea mangrove). The different ecosystems provide refuge and habitat to globally threatened and nationally protected plant and animal species, including great curassow (Crax rubra), Geoffroy’s spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), Baird’s tapir (Tapirella bairdii), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and Annona spraguei, a tree endemic to Panama which is classified as vulnerable.
Panama Bay is also a Wildlife Refuge protected by national law. However, given its proximity to Panama City, it has suffered the pressures of urban development and deforestation has modified the structure and composition of its vegetation cover. Other threats are sewage discharge and uncontrolled fishing.