Urmia et Van :
muddy banks and salted shellfishes.

The lakes may experience important modifications of their level and their salinity for other reasons that the human activities. The Lakes Van in Turkey and Urmia in Iran belong to this category.

Located at the East of Turkey, at an elevation of 1.700 m, the Lake Van has the surface of a Belgian province. It was formed two million years ago by a lava flow of the Nemrut volcano which formed a natural dam on the Murat river. It is fed by this river, a great number of small rivers and by the snow melt of the mountains which surround it but but drained by none. This water arrives at the lake containing a small quantity of salts in particular of sodium bicarbonate. It escapes from the lake only by evaporation with as results an increase of the salts concentration of the water. Today, the Lake Van is so much salted that almost any life in it disappeared with the exception of some shellfish and the darekh, a kind of carp which was able to adapt to salted water.

The most interesting living being of the lake is the hypothetical Monster of the Lake Van. Many witnesses affirm having seen an animal of lengthened form measuring about fifteen meters. Contrary to the Loch Ness, the area is not known for alcoholism and moreover, there is a video document of bad quality but on which one distinguishes nevertheless an impressive animal.

In the vicinity of the Lake Van appeared the race of cats of the same name which are characterized by one green eye and the other blue. It is a robust race which fears neither the cold nor water. They even adore to swim.

Chat du Lac de Van

Contrary to much lakes of this area, the Lake Van sees its level increasing a few cm per year. This increase added to a seasonal variation of an amplitude of the order of 50 cm makes the banks muddy to certain places. That does not withdraw anything to the beauty of the lake and of its environment.

Rich by its nature, the Lake Van is also remarkable by historic sites in particular the church of Armenian style built on the Akdamar Island which was at the origin a peninsula and which owes its name to the "Romeo and Juliet" of the lake. Two other very beautiful sites of the area are the ruins of a castle built during the Xe century BC and the tomb of king Argisti 1st on whom is engraved a list of the achievements of the Uartian people which lived there at that time. One tells in particular about channels and artificial lakes! Let us not forget either to sixty km of Van, the famous giant statues of the Nemrut Mount.

To a few hundred km towards the East, in Iran, we find another important salted lake: the Lake Urmia located at a few km of the city of the same name. The Lake Urmia is salted so much that with the exception of some shellfish, any life in disappeared. Thanks to this shellfish, the lake is used as refuge for large colonies of flamingos which are not very pink because the shellfish in question does not contain the necessary pigment. In spite of this hostile environment, the lake and the area surrounding it profit from a large biodiversity.

The area of Urmia is arid but nevertheless fertile. It includes also very beautiful historic sites among which a mosque and a Christian church. Towards the East, we find two more salted lakes where the salt concentration is so high that it crystallizes on the surface of the water.

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