Go to book Desertification

Trouble Sparks When the Lake Disappear

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.

Sebastian Castelier

It is now possible to walk across the entire length of Lake Urmia

Sebastian Castelier

On the bank of Lake Urmia, a pile of salt dries on a plastic sheet

The Daily Mail

Iran's Lake Urmia

Kaveh Madani

Lake Salt Urmia

Birds in Lake Urmia

Lake Urmia provides very important seasonal habitat for many species of migrating birds.

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.

Migratory birds in Lake Urmia


Flamingo in Lake Urmia

Shrimp Artemia in Lake Urmia

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.