Songor Lagoon is, with Keta Lagoon (GH033), one of the two major lagoon systems associated with the Volta river estuary and is situated to the west of the estuary. The site comprises a brackish water lagoon with extensive mudflats and islands, saltpans, a broad sandy beach and flood-plains of a number of small streams, including the Sege and Zano, which drain directly into the lagoon. The open water area of the lagoon covers up to c.11,500 ha and extends c.20 km along the coast and c.8 km inland. It is separated from the sea by a narrow sand-dune on which small villages are situated. The lagoon is shallow, c.50 cm in the deepest parts, with most areas less than 10 cm. The land around the lagoon is low-lying, with the highest point less than 10 m above sea-level. Channels, which in the past provided direct connection with the Volta river, are effectively blocked. The lagoon has no direct access to the sea and seawater replenishment is from seepage through the sand-dunes.The main wetland vegetation-type is saline marsh, with degraded mangroves (mainly Avicennia sp.) and waterlogged grassland along the margins of the lagoon, and riverine woodland, scattered thickets of shrubs, climbers and small trees on higher ground. Terrestrial vegetation away from the lagoon is largely degraded coastal savanna, characterized by farmland, secondary vegetation on abandoned farms, wastelands and eroded lands invaded by neem tree Azadirachta indica, and isolated trees such as fan palm Borassus aethiopum, mango Mangifera indica, silk cotton tree Ceiba pentandra and baobab Adansonia digitata. Human activities in and around the lagoon comprise mainly farming, fishing and intensive salt extraction.
See Box for key species. The site is well known ornithologically; waterbirds have been monitored monthly by the Ghana Wildlife Society for more than 10 years. It is the second most important site, after Keta (GH033), for waterbirds on the Ghanaian coast, supporting estimated maximum numbers of over 100,000 birds. The site is particularly important as a roosting site for terns; roosts of over 50,000 may be seen regularly during the peak months of September and October. The site has the highest count of Sterna dougallii recorded at any site on the Ghanaian coast. The most important parts of the wetland for waterbirds are the Pute, Totope and Kablevu areas of the lagoon where spectacular flocks of terns, herons and egrets, Recurvirostra avosetta, stilts and several small wader species forage and roost together.
Non-bird biodiversity: Three species of threatened marine turtle Lepidochelys olivacea, Dermochelys coriacea and Chelonia mydas (all EN) nest along the Songor beach (the first two are the more common). There is one specimen from here of a fourth, Eretmochelys imbricata (CR), in the museum collections of the Zoology Department, University of Ghana, but no records of the species were found in recent surveys.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site was designated as a Ramsar Site under the Ghana Coastal Wetlands Management project in 1992. The upland areas surrounding the lagoon are heavily degraded, freshwater flow into the lagoon is limited and large portions dry up during the long dry season. The main threat is a proposal for industrial salt production which, if carried forward, would turn the entire lagoon into a salt reservoir. All species of nesting turtle are heavily hunted and their eggs collected.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Songor Ramsar Site. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.