Have you ever waded in the water of the Gediz Delta wetlands?
It’s a real biodiversity hotspot. An Important Bird Area in Danger and a Key Biodiversity Area, the Gediz Delta is also one of the 14 Ramsar sites in Turkey – a designation given to wetlands of international importance.
Our Turkish partner, Doğa, has been working to conserve the Gediz Delta since the NGO’s creation. No fewer than 298 bird species have been recorded at the site so far.
Sadly, some of the observed species are in danger. For instance, the Common Eider, is classified as vulnerable in Europe, and the Horned Grebe, is vulnerable at a global scale.
In recent years, these waterbirds have joined the bird species list of the Gediz Delta, joining a longer-beaked cousin of theirs, the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus).
Gediz Delta’s first Great White Pelican chick
In March 2020, during a joint monitoring visit of the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir and Doga with the support of the Regional Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks; conservation biologists and ornithologists Ömer Döndüren, Ph.D and Ferdi Akarsu noticed something peculiar: a Great White Pelican was nesting in the Gediz Delta! She had found a cosy little spot to hatch her eggs, sharing the space with many of her Dalmatian Pelican cousins.
And on Wednesday, May 20th, it finally happened: a Great White Pelican chick was observed in the Gediz Delta for the very first time.
Thus, together with Aktaş Lake in Ardahan and Yedikır Dam in Amasya IBAs, the breeding grounds of the Great White Pelican in Turkey increased to three sites.
Did you know that there were between 260,000 and 300,000 Great White Pelicans in the world? Nesting in large colonies, the Northern populations of this species are fully migratory, and regularly fly long distances from breeding and roosting grounds to feed. They mostly inhabit large, warm, shallow, saline lakes, lagoons, marshes, broad rivers, deltas, estuaries and coasts of landlocked seas. The Great White Pelican is entirely piscivorous: it only eats fish!
Pelicans face serious threats. The intensive farming industry drains wetlands – pelicans’ natural habitat, their home – to provide irrigation for intensive agriculture. Another threat they face is electric powerlines: they sometimes fatally collide with them during migration.
Reflecting upon the situation in the Gediz Delta, Şafak Arslan, Doga’s Biodiversity Research Coordinator said: “In parallel with the initiation of the year-round bird monitoring program of Doga, the number of observed species at the Delta is increasing. For sites like Gediz Delta where breeding, wintering and migrating species can be observed, year-round monitoring is quite important. Gediz is the first wetland where such a program is implemented. Doga will continue monitoring and conserving the site and its inhabitants and take needed measures with relevant stakeholders such as the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir.”