Climate change, agriculture to blame as major lake in Turkey dries up

Turkey's second-largest lake, Tuz Gölü, has completely receded due to a drought, which experts attribute to climate change, as well as destructive farming practices.

Tourists visit Tuz Gölü, about 130 km (81 miles) from Ankara, August 29, 2011. Tuz Gölü, which means Salt Lake in Turkish, is the second-biggest lake in Turkey, located in the Central Anatolia Region. (photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)
Tourists visit Tuz Gölü, about 130 km (81 miles) from Ankara, August 29, 2011. Tuz Gölü, which means Salt Lake in Turkish, is the second-biggest lake in Turkey, located in the Central Anatolia Region.
(photo credit: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS)

Tuz Gölü, or Lake Tuz, the second-largest lake in Turkey, has dried up due to a severe drought threatening the entire Mediterranean basin, which experts attributed to climate change, according to a report by the Associated Press. Long-standing agricultural policies, including "unsustainable irrigation practices," are also to blame for the state of the lake, the report said.

Once home to numerous species of birds dependent on the algae usually found there, the lake is now littered with the carcasses of flamingos. Some 5,000 of them died because of the lack of water, the AP cited photographer and environmental activist Fahri Tunç as saying. The lake has been known to be a "breeding ground for the largest flamingo colony in the Mediterranean," according to Gizmodo.

Tuz Gölü, meaning "Salt Lake" in Turkish, is under consideration to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gizmodo reported.

Other lakes in Turkey have also drastically receded as a result of the drought and policies that have exacerbated it, the AP report noted. For instance, the water levels of Lake Van, the largest lake in the country, have fallen so precipitously that two weeks ago, boats were unable to dock, according to the report.

A Turkish Coast Guard boat gets ready for a patrol at Lake Van in the border city of Van, Turkey, August 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)A Turkish Coast Guard boat gets ready for a patrol at Lake Van in the border city of Van, Turkey, August 22, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

This comes as the international community grapples with the impending climate crisis endangering countless ecosystems and human lives across the planet.

Representatives from hundreds of nations will meet this week at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss policies aimed at mitigating the effects of the crisis.