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Danube
Delta

Danube Delta

World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Habitat with the largest biodiversity, natural heritage and UNESCO protected area.
Overview  •  Birdwatching  •  People and Settlements  •  Fauna

Overview

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Related articles: Danube Delta Fauna, Danube Delta Image Gallery

The Danube Delta - A UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site




The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania ( Tulcea county ), while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine (Odessa Oblast).

The approximate surface is 4152 km², of which 3446 km² are in Romania. If the lagoons of Razim-Sinoe (1015 km² of which 865 km² water surface; situated in the south, but attached to the Danube Delta from geological and ecological perspectives, as well as being the combined territory of the World Heritage Site) are to be added, the considered area of the Danube Delta grows to 5165 km².

Wildlife


The Danube Delta falls within east European steppe ecosystem, with Mediterranean influences. As a young region in full process of consolidation, the Danube Delta represents a very favorable place for the development of highly diverse flora and fauna, unique in Europe, with numerous rare species.

Situated on major migratory routes, and providing adequate conditions for nesting and hatching, the Danube Delta is a magnet for birds from six major eco-regions of the world, including the Mongolian, Arctic and Siberian.

There are over 320 species of birds found in the delta during summer, of which 166 are hatching species and 159 are migratory. Over one million individuals (swans, wild ducks, bald coots, etc.) winter here.

Ecosystems of marshy and flooding areas


The reed plats and floating reed islands (called plaur in Romania) are the most common and well known components of the Danube Delta. Vegetation of this ecosystem consists of common reed (Phragmites communis), and near river banks mace reed, sedge, Dutch rush, brook mint, etc. They constitute ideal spawning and nestling grounds.

The plaur is a mixture of reed roots, grass and soil, usually floating or anchored on the bottom. As a rule, the reed surrounds the lakes and ponds, slowly invading the water surface. This type of ecosystem is noted for the variety and large populations of birds, some of them very rare.
Great white pelican (pelecanus onocrotalus)



More than 50% of White Pelicans breed in the Danube Delta in Romania. In flight, it is an elegant soaring bird, with the head held close to and aligned with the body by a downward bend in the neck.


Great crested grebe (podiceps cristatus)



The Great Crested Grebe has an elaborate mating display. Like all grebes, it nests on the water’s edge, since its legs are set extremely far back and it is thus unable to walk very well.


Common kingfisher (alcedo atthis)



This sparrow-sized bird has the typical short-tailed, large-headed kingfisher profile. It feeds mainly on fish, caught by diving, and has special visual adaptations to enable it to see prey under water.
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