Lake Bafa is a saline-brackish wetland ecosystem of international importance located at the
south-eastern part of Büyük Menderes River Delta. It’s enclosed by Beşparmak
Mountains at the south and east and the alluvial plains of Büyük Menderes Delta at the north and west.
The Lake’s surface area is 6708 hectares for 25 m depth. However, the average water level is only 5 meters.
The main water source is Büyük Menderes River. Also, some small streams contribute to the water
input (Magnin and Yarar).
In recent times hydraulic barriers controlling the lake’s water level with two regulators at both ends have been installed.
The Lake was formed as the result of delta progradation of Büyük Menderes (Maeander) River.
In the past six or so millennia, the river sediments have gradually infilled nearly the whole marine
embayment of the so-called Latimian Gulf, thereby separating its southeastern part from the open sea
During the past millennia, the marine embayment has been transformed into
a delta and alluvial plain. The sedimentation rate in the late Hellenistic and Roman eras was accelerated by 6 times (135 cm/100 years) as compared to the
timespan before and after. The reason for the enormous increase in sediment supply is ecologically
unwise land use, particularly in Roman times. Deforestation of the hinterland led to strong erosion in
the vicinities of Latmian Gulf.
Büyük Menderes River which is the longest river in the Aegean region and is 584 km long
through the western part of Turkey before reaching the Aegean Sea with a large delta ecosystem.
Büyük Menderes has a total drainage area of 2,4 Million hectares. The overall
runoff capacity, i.e. the erosion potential of the river is so high that, it could be able to change the
geomorphology of the former Latmian Bay radically. Archaeological settlements such as Miletus, Priene and Myous and Herakleia were built on the shores of Latmian Gulf,
which was formed due to the rise of the sea level in the late Pleistocene to early Holocene.
the decline of these cities was closely related to progradation of Büyük Menderes
River delta. This sediment accumulation has accelerated in the last millennium with increasing
Increased siltation by Büyük Menderes flow and gradual integration of
Milesian Peninsula into the floodplain occurred between 4th-14th centuries. This process is finalized
with definite sediment accumulation at all parts of the bay and total loss of access to the open sea in
the last 500 years
Lake Bafa is one of the most important lakes in Turkey, with 4 islands within its perimeters. These islands are named Menet, Kahvehisar, Kargasarý and Kapıkırı islands