Göksu Delta

- Turkey -

Photo: © Zeynel Cebeci / Wikimedia

© Zeynel Cebeci / Wikimedia


Göksu Delta was designated as a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on 13 July 1994.

More about the site

Göksu Delta is located in the southern edge of Silifke district of Mersin province, settled at the outskirts of the Central Taurus Mountains, on the coastal plain, formed by the Göksu River. In 1990, 23,600 hectares of Göksu Delta were designated and decreed as a “Special Environment Protection Area” aiming at protecting its natural, historical and cultural heritage and ensuring that these values are transferred to future generations. In 1994, 15,000 hectares were decreed as a Ramsar Site. And in 1996, the Natural Site Area of 1st Degree was demarcated. Göksu Delta Ramsar Site meets three internationally important wetland criteria (criteria 2, 3, 4) out of nine. The Göksu Delta comprises lakes and marshlands, halophytic wetlands, halophytic steppes, beaches, sanddunes, agricultural areas and villages. There are two large lakes in the site, Paradeniz Lagoon, which is connected to these and separated from these with a sand bank, and Akgol which bears freshwater characteristics. Kugu Lake, located between Akgol and Paradeniz, and highly salty Arpalanı Lake located in the east of Paradeniz are also within the delta. 

There are numerous seasonal small lakes within the site. Salinity values of the lakes change in line with the tide. There is an area of fine sand at the edge of the delta known as Incekum Burnu (Cape). Since the Göksu River has beenflowing in its current bed, the edge of this fine sand area has started to erode away. Eight endemic plant species out of 442 plant species in total have been recorded in Göksu Delta. Göksu Delta provides numerous waterbirds with feeding, breeding, wintering and stopover opportunities with its convenient climate conditions, varying habitats and available nutrients. In the observations so far, 328 bird species are recorded in the site.

Marbledduck (Marmaronetta angustirostris), seaturtle (Caretta caretta).

Agricultural activities cover the largest part of the land use in Göksu Delta, which comprises very rich agricultural lands that offer the opportunity to cultivate continental climate crops, such as wheat and barley, as well as hot climate crops such as peanuts, citrus fruits, and early-season vegetables. Livestock production has had a remarkable place in Göksu Delta in the past. After meadows had been used for agricultural purposes and settlements, livestock has lost its importance. Only 10-15 families of Anatolian nomads, who frequent the area in summers, continue raising livestock.

Four species of fish are harvested in Akgöl. Two of them are salt-tolerant strong fish species, the eel (Anguilla anguilla) and flathead mullet that travel to Paradeniz Lagoon. Two freshwater species, carp (Cypinus carpio) and bluefish (Clarias lazera), lay eggs in this lake. Eel and bluefish are mostly harvested for exportation, while the rest of the species are consumed in theregion.

Göksu Delta and its immediate environment are very rich in terms of historical and archaeological values. Three mound remnants within the delta are presumed to belong to the Hittite period. Great building remnants from Roman and Byzantine times were discovered in the sand dunes around Paradeniz Lagoon. There are some other remnants in the sand dunes nearby İncekumand in the south of Akgöl. The two tombs discovered in Altınkum and Gazi Çiftliği are two of the seven-siblings tombs. There are Roman, Byzantine, and Armenian remnants in thewest of the delta dating back 14 centuries. 

A remarkable faith center during Christian times, Meryemlik or Hagia Techla was established in the Roman and early Byzantine periods. Because Silifke had developed very much during Roman and the Byzantium periods, it is now full of historical remains. In Corasium, Atakent (Susanoğlu) remnants of a Byzantine port was able to maintain its importance and existence until the 7th century.

Facilities in the site are bird watching towers and barracks in different important parts of the site.

Göksu Delta is a monitoring area for midwinter waterbird counting activities.

Conservation zones of Göksu Delta have been determined and declared in 2008. For twelve years the activities in the delta have been controlled by G.D. Nature Conservation and National Parks.

Dams and reservoirs constructed on the Göksu river have been decreasing sediment inputs to the delta. Some areas of dune and marsh have been illegally converted to agriculture. Illegal hunting is also a management challenge in the delta.

The management plan of Göksu Delta was approved in 1999 and revised in 2008. It has been implemented for 20 years.


Last updates of these informations: March 2020

© Zeynel Cebeci / Wikimedia