Ogurjaly island

Site description (2007 baseline):

Site location and context
This is the most western IBA in Turkmenistan and in Central Asia. It is situated on Ogurja island 35 km to the south of Hazar. The island is located in the Turkmenbashy district of Balkan region. The site includes Ogurja island and is a sandy strip 40 km length, running north-south, and up to 2 km wide. The area of land is c6,000 hectares, the area of adjoining water is 1,500 hectares. The island is the border between the Turkmen gulf and the Caspian Sea. The nearest distance to the South-Cheleken mainland spit is c15 km. The coast of the island is low and smooth. There is a small bay facing east on the northern tip. The western coast, on the sea side, is a sandy beach, with small lagoons in places. When there is a strong wind all of the beach stays underwater. The island's landscape consists of ridges and hills of fixed and semi-fixed sands with patches of shelly soil in the inter-ridge and inter-dune depressions. The vegetation is herbs with ephemerals and sparse short bushes of Salsola spp., Tamarix sp. and Nitraria sp.

Key biodiversity
The island is favourable for colonial nesting gulls and terns. Until the 1990s the island supported up to 20,000 pairs of Yellow-legged Gull and 200 pairs of Great Black-headed Gull - this represents approximately 4% and 0.5% of their current biogeographical populations. A significant number of shorebirds and other waterbirds, Passeriformes and some species of Falconiformes migrate over the island. There is also an isolated resident population of Alectoris chukar.

Non-bird biodiversity: In the beginning of the 1980s some tens of Gazella subgutturosa were brought to the island. Their number increased and at the beginning of the 1990s reached 2,000 individuals. But at present the number is not more than 600 individuals. Caspian Seal - unique to Central Asia - uses the island’s coasts, mainly the west, but numbers have decreased dramatically.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Poaching; regular collection of gulls eggs; fishery activities; pollution by household refuse; military presence due to the island being situated in a border zone.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Research on the nesting biology of Larus cachinnans and Larus ichthyaetus was made by specialists of the Krasnovodskiy ornithological zapovednik (now Hazar state reserve) and the Institute of evolutionary morphology and ecology of animals, Academy of Sciences of USSR.

Protected areas
Ogurja zakaznik of Hazar state reserve.

Land ownership

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Ogurjaly island. Downloaded from on 22/09/2023.