Khouran Straits

Country/territory: Iran, Islamic Republic of

IBA criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3 (1994)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 100,000 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
1994 medium not assessed not assessed
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Site description (baseline)
The Khouran Straits lie in the southern Persian Gulf between the region of the Mehran and Kul/Rasul (Gol) deltas and the island of Gheshm (110 km from east to west and up to 20 km across). Within the straits, there are c.100,000 ha of low-lying islands, mangrove, mudflats and creeks which constitute much the largest of the mangrove/mudflat ecosystems in Iran. The mangrove forests reach their greatest development around a group of low-lying muddy islands in a large bay on the north shore of Gheshm Island, but there are also significant stands along the outer margins of the Mehran delta. In these areas and in the Kul/Rasul delta to the east, there are vast intertidal mudflats. Elsewhere along the Gheshm and mainland coasts, the shoreline consists of wide sandy beaches and sandflats. The mangrove forests are monospecific stands of Avicennia marina, here at the north-west limit of its distribution. Red and brown algae (Rhodophyceae, Phaeophyceae) are the other dominant vegetation in the shallow coastal waters. The adjacent coastal plains are mainly barren sandflats with scattered Acacia, Prosopis and other thorn trees. A few small settlements are scattered along the shore, with some small date gardens. Fishing (commercial and subsistence) is an important activity. Land ownership is public.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. The mangrove supports substantial breeding populations of egrets and herons as well as some shorebirds (notably Dromas ardeola and Burhinus recurvirostris) and terns. Ardea goliath has its only confirmed breeding site in Iran here, and there is a small colony of Casmerodius albus modestus (South Asian race), which probably reaches its western limit in this region. The site holds Iran's largest colony of Ardeola grayii (at least 30 pairs), and Butorides striatus may breed. The extensive mudflats are an extremely important staging and wintering area for shorebirds and gulls, along with smaller numbers of Pelecanus crispus, Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus ruber and many other species. The adjacent desertic plains with scattered thorn trees and date gardens support a typical Baluchi avifauna with several primarily Indo-Malayan species. At least 93 species have been recorded in the reserve.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Khouran Straits. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.