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Lake Urmia, in north-western Iran, was once one of the largest permanent saline lake in the world and the second largest in the Middle East, after the Dead Sea. At its full size, it extended as much as 140 km from north to south and 85 km from east to west, covering an area larger than 5,200 square km. Historically, the lake attracted many species of migratory birds including flamingos, pelicans, ducks and egrets. The lake itself is home to a unique brine shrimp species, Artemia urmiana, and along with the surrounding wetlands and upland habitat, it supports many species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. The watershed of the lake is an important agricultural region with  6.4 million people depending on it.

But for the last two decades, the lake has been shrinking drastically. It’s southern end has almost dried up reducing the surface area to 2,000 square km and its water volume has shrunk nearly 95 per cent. Diversion of water for irrigation process and prolonged drought are said to be the causes.

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Satellite picture of Lake Urmia, taken on June 23, 2014, Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.



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