Trouble Sparks When the Lake Disappears

Iran is Becoming an Uninhabitable Desert


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My agricultural lands are not productive anymore. Storms that sweep across the exposed lakebed bring so much salt! The air, land, and water is of very poor quality. They are hurting us. They have had serious health effects, including respiratory and eye ailments, especially for my children.

Iran's Lake Urmia
Lake Salt Urmia

Birds in Lake Urmia


Lake Urmia provides very important seasonal habitat for many species.

Before, I saw so many migratory birds including flamingos, pelicans, ducks and egrets. But now, even the region’s most charismatic bird, like the flamingo, no longer visits. In 2015, more than a thousand birds died here, around Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, for unknown reasons.

The lake itself is home to a unique brine shrimp species, Artemia urmiana. The lake also supports many species of reptiles, amphibians and mammals. My grandfather told me that Lake Urmia is the world’s largest natural habitat of the Artemia brine shrimp. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. A species can almost never tolerate such high salinity levels. 

Migratory birds in Lake Urmia
Flamingo in Lake Urmia