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Location Turkmenistan, Balkan
Central coordinates 53o 45.53' East  39o 50.30' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, A4iii
Area 54,858 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2007

BirdLife Central Asia Programme (BirdLife Direct Action Programme)

Site description This site covers the east coast of Turkmen Bay and extends over 90-100 km, connecting Egriji – Garatau – Uzynada - Ajyada Bays. The coast line is indented, with many small unnamed bays. The site as a whole is low lying (the shore line at the entrance to Garatau Bay is -28m). The coastal region is basically sandy and up to 100-150m in width and consists of ridge-hilly sands, in some places large semi-fixed or barchan sands, and depressions with patches of saltmarsh. Inland from the sea are several strips of vegetation, differing with substrate: wet saltmarshs which flood with the tide; saltmarshes which are not flooded by the tide; salted shelly sands; semi-salted and shelly sands; semi-fixed ridge-hilly dunes; fixed dunes. Changes in microrelief as a result of sea level fluctuations are affecting the dynamics of the substrata and vegetative cover in each area.

Key Biodiversity The avifauna includes not less than 280 species, of which 240 (86%) are passage-wintering birds, including 120 (43%) waterbirds, representing 46 and 23% respectively of the total avifauna of Central Asia. Passeriformes are the most numerous (96 species), Haematopodidae (45), Anseriformes (28), Falconiformes (27) and Laridae (16). Most typical on migration are coots and ducks (Netta rufina, Aythya ferina, Anas platyrhynchos, Aythya fuligula, Aythya marila, Anas penelope, etc.), plus waders, gulls and terns. The IBA is located on a major flyway along the east coast of the Caspian Sea. Water bird spring migration has a high turnover rate. The spring migration begins in the middle of March and comes to an end at the end of April. In autumn migration has several peaks and is prolonged extending from the end of August to the beginning and middle of November. The following Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) species have been recorded: Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus roseus, Grus virgo, Buteo buteo, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Falco peregrinus, Circaetus gallicus, Burhinus oedicnemus, and also the non-migratory - Aquila chrysaetos, Falco cherrug and Bubo bubo. The globally threatened Vanellus gregarius and Aquila heliaca have also been recorded. Criterion А1 is applicable for Aythya nyroca. Other A1 species that occur but where supporting data are currently unavailable to justify designation are Oxyura leucocephala, Anser erythropus and Haliaeetus leucoryphus. As many birds winter at the site (15-20 species), criterion A4iii also applies.

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna includes 40 species of mammals, half from which are rodents (21 species), the others are predators (8), chiropterans (5), insectivores (4), ungulates (2). Reptiles are represented by 30 species, the most significant are water (Natrix natrix) and grass (Natrix tessellata) snakes and the Central Asian agama (Agama sanguinolenta). The flora contains more than 370 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the coast is represented by halophytic and salsolas communities. Sandy sites are fixed by vegetation but it is sparse: ephedra, a few species of Calligonum, Salsola richteri, and saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) which is very rare. Carex physodes covers some areas with sparse ephemerals.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina winter  1974-2003  250-11,880 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Pochard Aythya ferina winter  1976-2003  1,100-24,200 individuals  good  A4i  Vulnerable 
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca winter  1998-2003  490 individuals  good  A1  Near Threatened 
Common Coot Fulica atra winter  1980-2003  2,335-35,500 individuals  good  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1980  min 20,000 individuals  medium  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 very high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - unintentional effects (species is not the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland   5%
Desert   10%
Wetlands (inland)   75%
Sea   10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
military 95%
Notes: border zone
urban/industrial/transport 1%
unknown 4%

Protection status Not protected.

References Rustamov A.K., Vasilev V.I. (1976) Natural reserves of USSR (Soviet national ornithological Reserve Krasnovodskiy). – Мoscow. Znanie. (in Russian). Atamuradov, H.I. (1999)Red Data Book of Turkmenistan. - Т.1. - Ashkhabad: Turkmenistan. (in Russian). Rajapov, M. Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Turkmenistan. Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English). Rajapov, M. Turkmenistan. Country Study on the Status of Biodiversity.Ashgabat, 2002. (in Turkmen, Russian, English).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Turkmen Bay. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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