Nakhilu, Morghu and Ummal Karam islands

Country/territory: Iran, Islamic Republic of

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

Area: 2,045 ha

Site description
Three small, low-lying Persian Gulf islands a few kilometres offshore c.40 km south-east of the Monde river delta. Nakhilu, the westernmost island and furthest offshore, is c.15 ha, almost circular, and composed mainly of sand with some rocky shores in the south and west. It is fringed with low dunes which encircle a central basin almost completely covered in dense, low scrub. There are two small brackish pools near the south end. Morghu is c.10 km from north to south and c.2 km across (c.2,000 ha), consisting of a broad expanse of bare mudflats with a chain of low vegetated dunes along its south-west margin and round the southern end. The dunes are separated by narrow tidal channels which open up into a chain of shallow lagoons on the mudflats on the landward side of the dunes. Ummal Karam, the easternmost island, lies less than 1 km off the mainland and is c.1.5 km long and 200 m wide (c.30 ha), with rocky shores in the south, sand beaches in the north, and extensive dunes particularly in the west. There are extensive bare mudflats flooded only at the highest tides, and a system of tidal creeks drains a small Salicornia marsh near the east end of the island. Elsewhere in the interior, the vegetation consists of low scrub with one small patch of thorn bushes and a few stunted Phoenix palms. All three islands are devoid of fresh water and uninhabited.

Key biodiversity
See box for key species. A large colony of Dromas ardeola was discovered in the dunes on Ummal Karam during a survey of all three islands in June 1975. Other terns nesting on the islands at that time were Sterna nilotica (2+ pairs), S. caspia (5–10 pairs) and S. bergii (at least 40 pairs). There was also a colony of Egretta gularis (26 pairs) on Ummal Karam. Small numbers of Platalea leucorodia have been recorded on Morghu mudflats in winter.

Non-bird biodiversity: Reptiles: Nakhilu and Ummal Karam are important breeding sites for sea-turtles including Eretmochelys imbricata (E).

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nakhilu, Morghu and Ummal Karam islands. Downloaded from on 20/03/2023.