Iran seas, lakes, and lagoons: the serene presence
Iran? A dry country covered with mountains and deserts? Whenever somebody talks about Iran, this is usually the first image that comes to mind. However, this is not the whole truth. In northern parts, Iran borders the Caspian Sea, the biggest lake on the planet and in southern sections it borders the Persian Gulf and the Gulf Of Oman. All through the country even through high mountains and hot deserts you can always find fascinating oases, cold & hot springs, whitewater rivers and finally, beautiful lakes and lagoons, lying in a hidden place in peace.
Caspian Sea (Darya-ye Khazar)
The Caspian Sea is the largest lake in the world and accounts for 40 to 44% of the total lacustrine waters of the world. It is bigger than the Great American Lakes and Lake Victoria in Africa by surface area. The sea has a surface area of 371,000 km² (143,200 sq. mi²) and a volume of 78,200 km³ (18,800 cu mi). The 6,397 km coastline is shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan of which more than 900 km is along the Iranian side. About 128 large and small rivers flow into the Caspian Sea from Iran, among them the four largest rivers are: Sepidrud, Shalman, Shafarood, and Tonekabon.
The Caspian is divided into three distinct physical regions: the Northern, Middle, and Southern Caspian. Water temperature in the Southern Caspian never drops below 13°C degrees in wintertime, and in summertime it is usually increases up to 25° and even 30° C. However, the Caspian Sea is unique not only because of its size but also as it’s distinct from other lakes, the water of the Caspian is not fresh, but brackish. Therefore the highest salinity level reaches 12.7 ppt (about 1/3 of the ocean salinity) during summers.
The southwestern and southern Caspian shores are formed of the sediments of the Lankaran and Gilan-Mazanderan lowlands, with the high peaks of the Talish and Alborz Mountains rearing up close inland.
Wildlife of Caspian Sea consists of the Caspian Sea, Caviar fish and many other fishes. The Caspian Seal (Phoca caspica), is the smallest existing varieties of seal which is endemic to the region as well as being the only mammal to live in the Caspian Sea.
Persian Gulf (Khalij-e Fars)
The Persian Gulf located in Western Asia between Iran (Persia) and the Arabian Peninsula is a shallow, epi-continental sea approximately 1,000 km long and 200-350 km wide. With Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast, the Persian Gulf is about 56 kilometers wide at its narrowest, in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 meters and an
average depth of 50 meters. Basically, the Persian Gulf is an extension of the Indian Ocean with a rate of 37-40% salinity.
The Persian Gulf has extensive coral reefs, many fishing grounds, and abundant pearl oysters, however, its ecology has been under the pressure of industrialization, and in particular, oil and petroleum spills during wars in the region.
Persian Gulf is home to many small islands. Geographically the biggest island in the Persian Gulf is Qeshm Island— with fantastic natural attractions including Hara sea forests and Stars Valley— located in the Strait of Hormuz and belongs to Iran. Other significant islands in the Persian Gulf include Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Kish administered by Iran.
In recent years, there has also been expansion of artificial islands, regularly created by Arab states like UAE for commercial reasons or as tourist resorts. These artificial islands, although they are very small, have had a negative effect on the mangrove habitats upon which these structures are constructed, causing unpredicted environmental issues.
The wildlife of the Persian Gulf is diverse, and entirely unique due to the gulf’s geographic distribution and its isolation from the international waters only breached by the narrow Strait of Hormuz. The Persian Gulf has hosted some of the most
magnificent marine fauna and flora, some of which are near extinction or at serious environmental risk. From corals, to dugongs, Persian Gulf is a diverse cradle for many species that depend on each other for survival.
One of the most unique marine mammals living in the Persian Gulf is Dugong, commonly referred to as the “sea cow”. Called “sea cows” for their grazing habits, their mild manner and resemblance to the livestock, dugongs have a life expectancy like that of human beings and can reach lengths of up to 3 meters. These gentle mammals feed on the sea grass and genetically— comparing to the dolphins and the whales—are more similar to the land mammals.
As another important inhabitant of the Persian Gulf waters, Corals are major ecosystems which support huge number of marine species, and whose health specifically mirrors the health of the gulf. During recent years, there has been an extreme decline in the coral population in the Persian Gulf, partially due to global warming, however significantly because of irresponsible dumping by Arab states such as UAE and Bahrain.
The Persian Gulf is likewise home to over 700 types of fish, the vast majority of which are local to the gulf. More than 80% of these species are indirectly or directly depend on the coral reef for their survival. In general, the wild life of the Gulf is endangered from both world factors, and local, regional negligence. Most contamination is from ships; land produced pollution is considered as the second most common source of contamination, ranging from mercury to basic or acidic toxins.
Located in the northern Gilan Province, the present surface area of Anzali Mordab (lagoon) is estimated at less than 35 km². Apart from being important for finfish and crayfish, Anzali lagoon is also an important bird nesting and wintering habitat, and is an internationally listed protected wetland because of its importance for migratory birds. The situation, as at present, demands clarification of the lagoon’s importance for fish and wildlife, and urgently requires putting forward proposals for the best management measures, which would make possible the optimal use of the lagoon for fish, crayfish and wildlife, while maintaining it as a unique habitat decorated with beautiful Lotus flowers.
Lake Zarivar, also known as Zeribar or Zrewar, is a lake situated in the Iranian province of Kordestan west of Marivanin in western Iran. The name is composed of zare (sea) and the suffix -bar (which in Kurdish means lake).
Zarivar Lake has a length of 5 km (3.1 mi), a maximum width of 1.6 km (0.99 mi), and a maximum depth of 6 meters (20 ft.). The lake’s water is fresh and it is a major touristic attraction in the region. There is a lot of folklore about the origins of the lake among the Kurdish people of this region.