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Location Iran, Islamic Republic of, Bushehr
Central coordinates 51o 30.00' East  27o 50.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii, B1i, B3
Area 2,045 ha
Altitude 0 - 3m
Year of IBA assessment 1994

Site description Three small, low-lying Persian Gulf islands a few kilometres offshore c.40 km south-east of the Monde river delta. Nakhilu, the westernmost island and furthest offshore, is c.15 ha, almost circular, and composed mainly of sand with some rocky shores in the south and west. It is fringed with low dunes which encircle a central basin almost completely covered in dense, low scrub. There are two small brackish pools near the south end. Morghu is c.10 km from north to south and c.2 km across (c.2,000 ha), consisting of a broad expanse of bare mudflats with a chain of low vegetated dunes along its south-west margin and round the southern end. The dunes are separated by narrow tidal channels which open up into a chain of shallow lagoons on the mudflats on the landward side of the dunes. Ummal Karam, the easternmost island, lies less than 1 km off the mainland and is c.1.5 km long and 200 m wide (c.30 ha), with rocky shores in the south, sand beaches in the north, and extensive dunes particularly in the west. There are extensive bare mudflats flooded only at the highest tides, and a system of tidal creeks drains a small Salicornia marsh near the east end of the island. Elsewhere in the interior, the vegetation consists of low scrub with one small patch of thorn bushes and a few stunted Phoenix palms. All three islands are devoid of fresh water and uninhabited.

Key Biodiversity See box for key species. A large colony of Dromas ardeola was discovered in the dunes on Ummal Karam during a survey of all three islands in June 1975. Other terns nesting on the islands at that time were Sterna nilotica (2+ pairs), S. caspia (5–10 pairs) and S. bergii (at least 40 pairs). There was also a colony of Egretta gularis (26 pairs) on Ummal Karam. Small numbers of Platalea leucorodia have been recorded on Morghu mudflats in winter.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: Nakhilu and Ummal Karam are important breeding sites for sea-turtles including Eretmochelys imbricata (E).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Crab-plover Dromas ardeola breeding  1975  1,500 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i, B3  Least Concern 
Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis breeding  1975  1,000 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
Saunders's Tern Sternula saundersi breeding  1975  9 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa breeding  1975  535 breeding pairs  good  B3  Least Concern 
Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus breeding  1975  21,500 breeding pairs  good  A4i, B1i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1975  20,000-49,999 breeding pairs  good  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Sea   major
Coastline   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
not utilised major

Acknowledgements Data-sheet compiled by Dr D. A. Scott, reviewed by Dept of Environment.

References Gallagher et al. (1984), Scott (1975b).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Nakhilu, Morghu and Ummal Karam islands. Downloaded from on 29/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife