2020 Photo Contest, Environment, Stories, 2nd Prize

Fading Flamingos

Photographer

Maximilian Mann

DOCKS Collective

21 November, 2018

An exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Urmia, Iran, shows the abundance of birdlife that once populated Lake Urmia and its wetlands.

Lake Urmia, in northwest Iran, once one of the largest salt lakes in the world, is drying up. In the 1990s, it was twice the size of Luxembourg, but intensified droughts and elevated summer temperatures have sped up evaporation. In addition, illegal wells together with a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects along the lake’s tributaries have diverted water to farm fields. Research by an international group of scientists conducted in 2014 showed that the lake had shrunk to about 12% of its size in the 1970s. In addition, environmentalists argue that a 15-kilometer-long causeway that cuts the lake in two, built in 2008, contributes to the drying as it inhibits water flow between the two sides. The exposed lakebed forms a vast salt desert that cannot support agriculture and is susceptible to salt storms which adversely affect surrounding agriculture, and cause eye, skin and lung disorders. Residents in the area, for whom the lake was once a leisure spot, are moving away. The desiccation also affects food sources for migratory birds such as flamingos, ducks and egrets. President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has pledged US$5 billion over ten years to revive Urmia, and the United Nations Development Programme is working with farmers to introduce more sustainable working practices.

About the photographer

Maximilian Mann

Maximilian Mann, born in 1992, is a documentary and portrait photographer who focuses on stories about social and ecological changes. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in photography f...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/60
F-Stop
3,2
ISO
2500
Camera
Fuji xpro2

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