July 8, 2008

Black Sea Saltwater Threatens Wildlife

A recent intrusion by Black Sea saltwater into the wetlands of the Kizilirmak Delta in Turkey has increased salt levels in the area's lakes, with negative effects on wildlife in the region, local Today's Zaman reported on Monday.

Murat Bulut, chairman of the Black Sea Nature Protection Federation (KARDOGA), was quoted as saying that the increase in the salt levels of the lakes in the Black Sea delta, one of the most important wetlands in Turkey, has been caused by water channels that were built to protect land under cultivation from floods during periods of excessive precipitation.

Stressing that unless the necessary precautions are taken, heightened salt levels will damage wildlife in the region, Bulut said that "The Black Sea has slowly begun taking the delta into itself. The salinization of the lakes, which are connected to the sea via water channels, is increasing. There is a serious deterioration in flora and fauna."

He noted that breakwaters must be constructed where the sea and the delta meet, and other precautions must be taken to stop seawater from entering the lakes.

Bulut explained the fresh lake water is getting salty, and the fish are suffering from that. The delta is an important passageway for migrating birds. If it keeps on going like that, the number of birds will decrease, too.

The official also expressed that the Black Sea is facing increasing threats from industrial pollution.

The 56,000-hectare Kizilirmak Delta, which takes its name from the Kizilirmak River, is located in the Bafra district of northern Samsun province, where the river empties into the Black Sea.

Moreover, the delta is one of the most prominent wetlands in Turkey and hosts many small and big lakes and various animal species.

It is home to more than 140 animal species and the delta hosts more than 100,000 birds in winter, the region is of international ornithological importance.