Anzali lagoon, the City of Blue Lilies

Anzali Lagoon is one of the first international lagoons recorded in Iran and was formed in the last 70 to 100 thousand years.

Introduction to the Anzali lagoon

Anzali lagoon port in Gilan province is the largest port in Iran on the southern coast of the Mazandaran Sea and the rainiest city in Iran. One of the most famous natural attractions of the region is Anzali Lagoon, or “Anzali Sel” in the Gilaki language. This lagoon is widespread as one of the stunning and significant lagoons in Iran. A lagoon is a habitat of a combination of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Based on the studies, the Anzali International lagoon was formed in the last 70 to 100 thousand years by the deposition of fine-grained sand with a thickness of approximately 450 meters on the coastal margin. Then, the underwater sediments related to about 15 thousand years before the new Caspian Sea sediments were formed on the previous one. Finally, the retreat of the seawater continued, and the alluvial deposits in the coastal plain came out of the water and organized a long strip.

Some believe that the name Anzali comes from the word Hamzali which in the Gilaki means proximity of water and land. Also, in Greek, words such as “Anzelios” and “Anzelia” are synonyms of the lagoon. Anzali Lagoon is one of the first international lagoons recorded in Iran. The lagoon was registered in the list of international lagoons of the Ramsar Convention in 1975. And it has been introduced as a significant habitat for birds.

The Features of Anzali lagoon

It is interesting to know that Anzali Lagoon is the sister of Kushiro Lagoon in Kushiro Shitsugen National Park, Japan. Also, this wetland is a freshwater type and has created unique landscapes and unique biodiversity. Anzali lagoon hosts many islands and places two cities, Bandar Anzali and Abkenar, on its coast.

The extent of this lagoon depends on the weather conditions and the seasons. During the rainy seasons, the area of this stunning wetland goes roughly 120 square kilometres, and during the low rainy seasons, it arrives at about 80 square kilometres. The lagoon water depth also depends on these factors and reaches a maximum of 5.2 meters in the rainy season. Also, Anzali wetland is different from others in terms of humidity and water due to its geographical location. The lagoon is one of the coastal wetlands of our country, which acts like a purification device and connects to the Caspian Sea through a shipping channel. As an enormous natural habitat of animals, Anzali Lagoon has mesmerizing views in its heart. And everywhere in this lagoon, you can see magnificent water lilies that dance with the wavy movement of the water and have given this lagoon a dreamlike effect with their pink colour.

The Anzali wetland vegetation

Anzali International Wetland has a valuable vegetation cover that provides a safe area for laying and hatching native and migratory birds. It also includes suitable habitats for aquatic life, mammals, and other animal species. In the following, we will introduce you to the vegetation of this area.

The Marginal plant layer or footing

Marginal plants’ roots are in the soil, the lower part in the water, and all or a large part of the vegetative part, such as flowers and leaves, is outside the water. These plants exist on the edge of lagoons and nearby rivers. Marginal plants include Common Reed, Water Mint, Water-plantains, Longleaf Pondweed, Flowering Rush, Knotweed, and Lotus. The reeds cover about two-thirds of the wetland area. But the most famous plant of the Anzali lagoon, which is world-famous, is the Lotus, most people know the name of the Anzali lagoon with this beautiful plant, and it grows from the end of June to the end of summer. Before blooming, people call the Lotus the sea pistachio. And in the local language, it is known as Thaale Baghli (Nelumbium). These flowers, which grow in layers of broad green leaves, have large flowers with thick and numerous pink petals, which add a specific attractiveness to this area. The plant’s green cap and little seeds are functional in traditional medicine due to their therapeutic and medicinal properties.

The layer of floating plants

Floating plants are plants that float on the water’s surface, and their significant parts, especially the leaves, are placed on the water’s surface. The roots of these plants are in the wetland bed, and their flowers are floating or out of water. Shalween, Lemna minor, Sea Sage, Knotgrass, Water moss, Common Frogbit, Yellow Water-lily, and White Water-lily are among the floating plants of Anzali lagoon. The Water-lily is a large flower with red, white, and blue colours, which keeps its roots in the water so that its gorgeous flowers decorate the water like a gem. In addition to its beautiful appearance, this flower has a sacred place in various religions, especially in Eastern schools. The Water-lily flower is pure and holy because it hardly comes out of the mud.

The use of this flower in the architecture of Taq-e Bostan and Persepolis indicates its importance in Persia. Also, the appearance of its name in the poems of Iranian poets shows its place among artists. One of the main places where Marsh Terns lay eggs and hatch is the area where Water-lily flowers grow. Marsh Terns lay their eggs on a plant called Water Chestnut, and their chicks are born there.

Submerged plant layer in Anzali lagoon

Submerged plants are plants that all or a large part of their vegetative and reproductive parts are inside water, and their flowers may be visible on the water’s surface. These plants include: Watermilfoils, Hornworts, Holly-leaved Naiad, and Woolly Yarrow Milfoil.

Plants of the land around the wetland

Due to the wet soil around the lagoon, plants that need a lot of moisture can grow there. These plants are shrubs and trees, and we can refer to Umbrella Palm and Rushes among them.

The Animal species of Anzali lagoon

Anzali Lagoon is one of the most valuable habitats for birds, marine animals, mammals, and other animal species. The wetland is the place of residence and spawning of many aquatic species. Therefore, this lagoon hosts rare native and migratory birds, so its preservation and care are substantial. In addition, more than 100 species of birds and 50 species of fish live in this wetland. Among the birds in this wetland are Herons, all kinds of ducks, Black-necked grebe, short-legged geese, swans, and Red-breasted goose. In Anzali Lagoon, several protected areas and wildlife shelters, which are home to different species of birds and fish, exist. Next, we will introduce Selkeh and Sorkhanhol Wildlife Refuge.

The Selkeh Wildlife Refuge

Selkeh is one of the valuable wetland areas in the north of Iran, which receives many migratory birds yearly. This area is a significant refuge for migratory birds during the cold seasons of the year, and it is one of the few wetlands that Red-breasted goose, swans, and even short-legged geese.

The Sorkhanhol Wildlife Refuge

In the area of ​​Anzali International lagoon and the west of Selkeh, Sorkhanhol, one of the country’s wildlife refuges, locates. To reach this area, you must pass through the Water-lilies. Migratory birds such as swans, geese, Anas, and Gulls come to this area in winter. Native fish, such as Common Carp, Common Bream, and Pike, and migratory fish, such as Caspian White Fish, Shemaya, and Vimba Vimba, also live in the area. Crabs are one of the substantial aquatic animals that grow in this lagoon since they are known as one of the most delicious crabs in the world. They are placed after American crabs and before European crabs in terms of weight and protein content.

The economic value of Anzali lagoon

The sediments of the Anzali lagoon have a high economic value, and we can use them as chemical fertilizers, building materials, and for the discovery of rare elements. One of the rare elements in Anzali lagoon sediments is Titanium.

The Anzali lagoon entertainment

The Boating and watching the unique nature of the lagoon. In different parts of Anzali port, you can get on a boat for a fee and go to the heart of the lagoon. Water-lilies, reeds, and lotuses create a scenic view of the lagoon. Boating among these gorgeous plants will bring you great pleasure.

The Bird watching

If you are interested in bird watching, you can sit and enjoy watching birds for hours.

The Kayaking

Kayaking is one of the best hobbies in Anzali Lagoon, where you can create exciting moments for yourself and experience a different sport. (Kayak is a specific type of boat that is usually one-person or two-person and has various materials such as wood or fiberglass)

The Fishing

Fishing is known as one of the most popular pastimes in the world. You can experience fishing in Anzali lagoon in quiet. Of course, you cannot rent fishing equipment here and must bring the necessary equipment. Also, it is better to come to this tourist activity during the fishing season so as not to endanger the lives of animals.

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