The Thyna saltpans, immediately to the south of Sfax, are, with the Monastir saltpans (TN021), the only remaining commercially exploited saltpans in Tunisia, and much the biggest. The succession of shallow pools, of varying depth and salinity, provide prime habitat for waterbirds of all kinds and the constant supervision and wardening means that disturbance is restricted to a minimum. Their commercial exploitation means that there is always water available, even at the end of the long dry summer. The Thyna saltpans are, like Kerkennah (TN026), Kneiss (TN032), Oued Akarit (TN034), Bordj Kastil (TN036), Gourine (TN037) and Boughrara (TN038), situated at the centre of the Gulf of Gabès which, with its high tidal movement, is almost unique in the Mediterranean. Just offshore of Thyna are the tidal harbour of Sfax and extensive tidal mudflats, separated from the saltpans by an embankment.
See Box for key species. See under Kneiss (site TN032) for a general statement of the ornithological importance of the Gulf of Gabès; the waders and piscivorous birds mentioned there all occur at Thyna. The Thyna saltpans provide feeding habitat for numerous waterbirds in the pools and birds feeding on the nearby mudflats and shallow waters use the saltpans as a high-tide roost. The site is an important site for wintering Phalacrocorax carbo (up to 4,000) and Limosa limosa (up to 2,000). In winters when surrounding freshwater sites are dry, Grus grus roost in the saltpans. Large numbers of waterbirds also breed, including Egretta garzetta (100 pairs), Larus genei (700 pairs), Sterna nilotica (70 pairs), S. hirundo (250 pairs) and S. albifrons (80 pairs). Marmaronetta angustirostris regularly breeds in small numbers (1–3 pairs). Numenius tenuirostris was last recorded here in 1992 (1–4 individuals). Phoenicopterus ruber attempts to nest almost annually.
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site is a Hunting Reserve. The saltpans are in the immediate suburbs of the large city of Sfax, and so are under permanent threat of urbanization. As long as the salt-production is maintained, however, guards from the salt company provide basic wardening and prevent excessive disturbance. There is, nevertheless, some disturbance from fishermen and casual visitors, better wardening, especially of breeding colonies, is desirable.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Salines de Thyna. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/01/2022.