The site is situated beside the coastal road linking Accra and Tema, c.3 km west of Tema township. The size of the open lagoon varies from 100-350 ha depending on the season. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a narrow sand-dune, on which the Accra-Tema road is built, and is connected to the sea by a small, non-functional (permanently open) sluice, constructed to prevent flooding of the coastal road. Large portions of the lagoon dry up in the dry season, resulting in hyper-saline conditions. The flood-plain is periodically inundated and the flooded areas are largely devoid of vegetation. There are also areas of freshwater marsh and coastal savanna grassland, the latter composed mainly of Sesuvium portulacastrum with various grass species associations. Land-use in the catchment includes rice, cassava and vegetable cultivation. The lagoon has been heavily overfished.
Birds See Box for key species. Seventy species of waterbird have been recorded at the site with estimated maximum numbers of some 30,000 birds. Other common species include Egretta garzetta, E. gularis, Glareola pratincola, Charadrius hiaticula and Sterna hirundo. Breeding waterbird include G. pratincola, Charadrius pecuarius and Sterna albifrons.
Conservation issues The site was proposed for Ramsar designation in 1987, but was not designated until 1992, by which time about a third of the area originally proposed for designation had been taken up by settlement development, involving a number of housing estates. The area has one of the highest urban growth-rates within the coastal zone, and sewage and domestic waste from the catchment seriously threaten the lagoon. The spread of urbanization continues and it is feared that if strict measures are not taken to control this, the entire catchment will be destroyed, with serious adverse effects on the lagoon. The area has high educational and recreational value, being one of the few ‘green’ areas left in the rapidly expanding Accra-Tema metropolitan area. The lagoon is regarded as a fetish by the indigenous people of Tema New Town and the Black Heron Egretta ardesiaca is considered sacred and protected by local taboos.