This site covers the east coast of Turkmen Bay and extends over 90-100 km, connecting Egriji – Garatau – Uzynada - Ajyada Bays. The coast line is indented, with many small unnamed bays. The site as a whole is low lying (the shore line at the entrance to Garatau Bay is -28m). The coastal region is basically sandy and up to 100-150m in width and consists of ridge-hilly sands, in some places large semi-fixed or barchan sands, and depressions with patches of saltmarsh.
Inland from the sea are several strips of vegetation, differing with substrate: wet saltmarshs which flood with the tide; saltmarshes which are not flooded by the tide; salted shelly sands; semi-salted and shelly sands; semi-fixed ridge-hilly dunes; fixed dunes. Changes in microrelief as a result of sea level fluctuations are affecting the dynamics of the substrata and vegetative cover in each area.
The avifauna includes not less than 280 species, of which 240 (86%) are passage-wintering birds, including 120 (43%) waterbirds, representing 46 and 23% respectively of the total avifauna of Central Asia.
Passeriformes are the most numerous (96 species), Haematopodidae (45), Anseriformes (28), Falconiformes (27) and Laridae (16). Most typical on migration are coots and ducks (Netta rufina, Aythya ferina, Anas platyrhynchos, Aythya fuligula, Aythya marila, Anas penelope, etc.), plus waders, gulls and terns.
The IBA is located on a major flyway along the east coast of the Caspian Sea. Water bird spring migration has a high turnover rate. The spring migration begins in the middle of March and comes to an end at the end of April. In autumn migration has several peaks and is prolonged extending from the end of August to the beginning and middle of November.
The following Red Data Book of Turkmenistan (1999) species have been recorded: Platalea leucorodia, Phoenicopterus roseus, Grus virgo, Buteo buteo, Pandion haliaetus, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Falco peregrinus, Circaetus gallicus, Burhinus oedicnemus, and also the non-migratory - Aquila chrysaetos, Falco cherrug and Bubo bubo. The globally threatened Vanellus gregarius and Aquila heliaca have also been recorded.
Criterion А1 is applicable for Aythya nyroca. Other A1 species that occur but where supporting data are currently unavailable to justify designation are Oxyura leucocephala, Anser erythropus and Haliaeetus leucoryphus.
As many birds winter at the site (15-20 species), criterion A4iii also applies.
Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna includes 40 species of mammals, half from which are rodents (21 species), the others are predators (8), chiropterans (5), insectivores (4), ungulates (2). Reptiles are represented by 30 species, the most significant are water (Natrix natrix) and grass (Natrix tessellata) snakes and the Central Asian agama (Agama sanguinolenta).
The flora contains more than 370 species of higher plants. The vegetation of the coast is represented by halophytic and salsolas communities. Sandy sites are fixed by vegetation but it is sparse: ephedra, a few species of Calligonum, Salsola richteri, and saxaul (Haloxylon persicum) which is very rare. Carex physodes covers some areas with sparse ephemerals.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
At present, the ecosystem of the IBA is considered to be in a safe condition. The greatest threats are considered to be pollution of the coast by household rubbish, illegal hunting and illegal fishing.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In the second half of the last century ornithological works were carried out by employees of the Khazar reserve, but in spite of this the IBA has not been designated and is not listed in the protected areas of Turkmenistan. Counts of passage-wintering waterfowl were carried out almost annually from 1971-2003 under the direction of Vasilev V.I. On desert areas adjoining the IBA employees of the Turkmenbashy antiplague stations carried out
regular (especially from 1960-1990) studies of the distribution and number of mammals of region, in particular rodents and predators.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Turkmen Bay. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/11/2022.