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Laguna Carmen-Machona is located in the south side of the Gulf of Mexico, northeast of the Mezcalapa River delta in the state of Tabasco. It forms part of the lagoon-estuarine system of Carmen-Machona. The two lagoons are connected through the Pajonal channel and communicate with the Gulf of Mexico via two openings, Santana, a natural mouth located northwest of the Laguna Carmen, subject to intense sedimentation and Panteones an artificial mouth, located northeast of the Machona Lagoon, subject to marine erosion. Both are considered shallow with an average depth of 1.5 meters and a maximum depth of 4.3 meters, and have a leveled bottom with abundant oyster banks. In addition, the system hosts two smaller lagoons: La Palma with an area of 11 square km, product of past floods and La Redonda with an area of 6 square km and an origin similar to Carmen and Machona.
Nowadays oyster exploitation is considered one of the main industries in the lagoon and in the state of Tabasco, producing 6,000 tons of oysters annually. In the past, the industry was threatened by high mortality rates among the oyster community caused by low salinity levels due to minimal exchange of lagoon waters with the gulf. In 1975 the state of Tabasco began a dredging project to create an opening that would connect the Machona Lagoon with the Gulf of Mexico, as an effort to increase salinity and reduce mortality rates in the oyster population. The project started as a 50 m-wide opening from the lagoon toward the gulf, but a strong north wind season in December of the same year caused the opening to stretch to 200 m. The Panteones Mouth width now measures more than 1 km. Marine populations have replaced previous communities of fresh water fish, and pasture, crops and “acahulales” have been replaced by Avicennia germinans.
Coordinates: 18.27° N 93.82° W
Selected Characteristics: (Castañeda and Contreras, 2001)
Surface Area: 88 km2
Average Depth: 3.0 m
Castaneda L.O. and F.E. Contreras. 2001. Serie: Bibliografia Comentada sobre ecosistemas costeros mexicanos 2001. Centro de Documentacion Ecosistemas Litorales Mexicanos. Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa, Division C. B. S. Depto. de Hidrologia. Publicacion electronica (CD). ISBN:970-654-912-9. Mexico, D.F.
Keywords: Lagoon, Estuary, Pajonal artificial opening, Fisheries,Oyster, Dredging
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