There are 4 large lakes located around the Bulgarian city of Burgas. Together with the protected areas of Poda, Chengene and Uzungeren, called Burgas Wetlands, the Burgas Lakes are a group of coastal lakes of varying salinity and extremely diverse flora and fauna.
One of the largest and most important migration routes of migratory birds from Europe to Africa – Via Pontica (Black Sea Road), pass through this group of lakes. In the areas of these lakes more than 300 bird species (12 of which are globally endangered) stop for a rest, make their nests or stay for the winter. All of the lakes have the status of reserves or protected areas. Burgas Wetlands are an extremely important source of sea salt and mud to the region and the economy.
The Lake of Pomorie
Pomorie Lake is а hypersaline lagoon of natural origin and is located north of Burgas, in the immediate proximity of the town of Pomorie. The lake is separated from the sea by a natural sand strip and an artificial embankment. As part of the Black Sea migration route, with its ornithological diversity the reservoir is of great national and international importance. Over 215 species of migratory birds can be observed in the surrounding area.
The unique combination of high salinity of the basin and the warm climate of the wetland area are a prerequisite to develop salt production in this region since ancient times.
Pomorie Lake is a source of black mud with exceptional healing properties. The mud and the lye, which is a result of the yield of salt, rich in minerals and microelements, have a great application in the production of cosmetics. Natural resources and warm climate make the town of Pomorie an attractive resort and rehabilitation centre. There are three mud therapy sanatoriums in the town and the biggest one on the Balkan Peninsula is among them.
The lake is a unique example for concomitance of traditional human activities like sea salt production and mud healing therapy with the natural animal wildlife and plant world.
The Lake Atanasovsko
Atanasovsko Lake is a natural coastal water reservoir with extremely high level of saltiness. The shallow liman is divided into two parts. The northern part was declared a natural reserve in 1980, and is the southern is now a buffer zone. The protected area is home to over 300 species of migratory birds and over 250 species of higher plants, and that makes the lake a Ramsar site – a wetland of international importance.
The high salt content has made the lake one of the most important sources of salt in the country. Salt production from the basin dates back from the early years of the XX century. Primitive extraction of sea salt is completely friendly to the lake flora and fauna. There is a theory that salt production is one of the factors that determine the high biodiversity of the wetland.
Other unique natural resources of the region are the healing mud and lye. The mud extracted from Atanasovsko lake is clean and homogeneous, formed for millennia by aquatic plants and organisms. Besides its healing qualities, it has properties that make it a basis for many cosmetic products. The lake is the largest field of healing mud in Bulgaria. Black Sea lye, as a side product of salt production, contains only inorganic substances and has a proven medical effect – it is used in prevention and treatment of a wide range of diseases.
The Lake of Burgas
Bourgas Lake, also known as Lake Vaya, with its area of 2,900 ha, is the largest natural lake in Bulgaria. The water in the sea liman is low salinities with annual fluctuations. Besides the invigorating relationship with the sea through the channel, three rivers flow into the lake – Aitoska, Sandardere and Chukarska.
Vaya Lake is one of the three most important complex for waterfowl. The natural basin is home to more than 23 species of fish and more than 60 species of invertebrates. Of greatest importance is the fact that through the different seasons of the year over 250 species of birds can be observed in the area of the coastal lake, 9 of them are threatened with extinction globally. Some species use the area for migration stop, while other nest during the winter.
Mandra Pond and Poda Area
Mandrensko Lake (or Yazekliysko Lake) – is the southernmost of the Burgas lakes and has fresh water. The coastal area of the basin borders with the most northern slopes of Strandja Mountain and that determines the typical forest vegetation.
With the construction of an embankment in the eastern part, in the 60s of last century, the lake becomes a dam, which together with the area Poda, forms a complex of ponds of varying salinity.
The protected areas have preserved a huge amount of biodiversity and are declared officially as water area of European importance because of the large number of species for which it is a natural habitat.