Lake Bardawil

Country/territory: Egypt

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii (2012)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 139,143 ha

Nature Conservation Eqypt
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
1999 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Lake Bardawil is a shallow (50–300 cm deep), hyper-saline lagoon occupying much of the Mediterranean coast of Sinai. It is separated from the sea by a sandbar that varies in width between 100 m and 1 km. The lake shore is mainly bare sand, with scattered saltmarsh and mudflats. The sandy lake-bottom is covered by scattered patches of algae Ruppia.Originally, Bardawil was connected to the sea via one small natural inlet at its eastern extremity (Bughaz Zaranik), usually becoming inundated with seawater only during winter when storms often breached the unstable sandbar. During summer, most of the lake was isolated from the sea and water evaporated, leaving behind large areas of sabkha. Several man-made inlets have been dredged along the sandbar since 1905 in an effort to allow the permanent inundation of the lagoon and maintenance of salinity levels suitable for the development of fisheries. Today, there are two man-made inlets (Bughaz I, II), which are continually being blocked through sedimentation. Bardawil is the source of an important local fishery, producing over 2,500 tonnes annually (1987 figure), mostly of the high-value saltwater fish Sparus auratus and Mugil sp., and employing some 3,000 fishermen. Fishing is suspended between January and May, in order to allow fish stocks to recuperate.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. Lake Bardawil is of moderate importance for wintering waterbirds. A total of 26,968 waterbirds were counted in the winter of 1989/90 (a proportion of these were counted within the limits of Zaranik Protected Area, IBA EG002). Only Phalacrocorax carbo and Phoenicopterus ruber winter in significant numbers. Up to 30,000 of the former species were estimated to be present at Bardawil in winter 1993. The importance of Bardawil as a stop-over and staging site has not been investigated thoroughly, but there are indications that at least a portion of the massive numbers of migrants passing through Zaranik, particularly in autumn, utilize some of the habitats available at the lake. Diversity of breeding species is very low. However, two of the six species known to breed in the immediate vicinity of the lake, Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus, occur in internationally important numbers.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: The Mediterranean shore of the lake is of potential importance for the nesting of two sea-turtles, Caretta caretta (EN) and Chelonia mydas (EN). Islets and dunes adjacent to the lake represent some of the last remaining habitats where extremely small populations of the tortoise Testudo kleinmanni (EN) might still exist. Mammals: Vulpes zerda (DD) still inhabits adjacent dunes in low density.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Bardawil. Downloaded from on 19/08/2022.