Groupe de Recherche pour la Protection des Oiseaux au Maroc (Affiliate)
Site description The site is a long narrow lagoon on the Mediterranean coast in north-east Morocco, lying between the Cap des Trois Fourches and the Cap de l’Eau (Ras el Ma). Sebkha Bou Areg (also known as Ma Chica) is separated from the open sea by a 24-km-long sandbar, broken near its middle by a narrow channel. The site is bordered on the north-west by the port of Beni Enzar, to the west by the town of Nador, and to the south by the village of Kariat Arkmane. Although covering almost 18,000 ha, the lagoon is shallow, nowhere more than 7 m deep, and in some areas salt is precipitated through evaporation of seawater. The limits of the IBA encompass the lagoon, its sandbar, and the fringing coast, including a rocky conical hill on a promontory which rises to 105 m, but most of the site lies below 10 m. Annual rainfall is 400 mm. The lagoon vegetation consists of Zostera marina and Posidonia caulinii: on shore, Salicornia dominates and there is a well-developed reedbed near Kariat Arkmane.
Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. A total of 160 species has been recorded at Sebka Bou Areg, many of them breeding. Phoenicopterus ruber and Glareola pratincola are both former breeders. The site is well known for its large numbers of waders and other waterbirds. In addition to the six species which regularly exceed IBA threshold levels, Glareola pratincola may do so exceptionally. Numenius tenuirostris formerly occurred, but the last confirmed sightings were of three overwintering birds in 1990 and 1991.
Non-bird biodiversity: Two nationally rare skinks, Chalcides ghiari and C. mauritanicus, are present.