Merja Bargha is a shallow (1.5 m) freshwater pond situated in an inter-dunal depression 15 km north-east of the Atlantic coastal resort of Moulay Bou Selham. The pond itself is 600 m long and 400 m wide, and covers approximately 10 ha. The boundaries of the IBA encompass some of the surrounding vegetation, giving the site a total area of 25 ha. The pond is fed mainly by several seepage springs at its southern end and by run-off from the surrounding irrigated fields. In addition, a formerly dry spring, Sidi Slimane, at the north-east of the site, has recently become active again and its outflow is increasing from year to year. The bordering vegetation consists principally of Typha, Juncus and Phragmites spp. whilst Nymphaea alba has recently colonized the shallow water areas. Around the pond is an expanse of Cynodon and Carex spp. and near the southern end there are plantations of Eucalyptus, Populus and Acacia spp. The surrounding land is intensively cultivated by the inhabitants of the neighbouring village of Bargha, who grow sugar-cane, ground-nuts and other crops. Livestock is also grazed around the pond.
See Box for key species. About 60 species have been recorded at Merja Bargha, of which 30 occur regularly. Approximately 2,500–5,500 coots (Fulica atra and F. cristata) and 1,000 duck regularly overwinter, among them small numbers of two species of global conservation concern, Marmaronetta angustirostris and Aythya nyroca. The former breeds, as does F. cristata. Oxyura leucocephala was recorded until 1997. The site is also well-known as a location for Porphyrio porphyrio.
Non-bird biodiversity: Pelobates varaldii, an endemic Moroccan amphibian, is believed to breed at the site.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Merja Bargha. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/09/2020.