ATANASOVSKO LAKE – BASINS WITH LYE AND THERAPEUTIC MUD IN THE SOUTHERN SALT WORKS
The basins used by the citizens and guests of Burgas are located in the southern part of Atanasovsko Lake on the side of the sea, not of the city. It is located on the territory of Black Sea Salt-Works JSC - Southern Salt-Works.
Access by car is easy – you take the road to Sarafovo towards the Southern Salt-Works (i.e., to the right after the fork). The narrow road along the lake takes you to the barrier of the salt-works, where you can park and continue walking to the basins with lye. It is also accessible by bicycle and on foot along the beach of Burgas going north to the administrative building of Black Sea Salt-Works JSC. Public access to the lye basins is free.
Coordinates: 42°31'55.03” N, 27°29'30.45” E 0 m above sea level
In the last few years the place has become more popular among the citizens and guests of Burgas for therapeutic mud baths.The basins are located in Burgas SaltWorks Protected Area (the former Buffer zone of the reserve).
Documents: Order №RD-418 of 18.06.2007
Mode of activities:
Prohibited: construction of buildings and roads, except the extension of the road Burgas-Pomorie;
Prohibited: opening of pits and quarries, altering the water regime, pollution by chemicals, industrial and domestic waste;
Prohibited: setting up of private farms and auxiliary shelters for domestic animals;
Prohibited: hunting, shooting and using the water basins for breeding wild or domestic animals;
Prohibited: collecting eggs and destroying birds’ nests;
Prohibited: filling up of the coastal area of the lake;
Allowed: tilling of agricultural land;
Allowed: livestock grazing except pigs;
Allowed: production of salt and extraction of mud without destroying the environmental conditions in the reserve;
Allowed: setting up of a base for research and maintenance of the reserve;
Allowed: building of Ezero Park to the south of the lake.
Overlap (partial or complete): Protected Area (PA) under the Birds Directive: Atanasovsko Lake
To the north east of Burgas is Atanasovsko Lake – Bulgaria’s birds’ paradise. It is a super salty lagoon divided into two parts by the road Burgas - Varna. The northern part has a supported reserve status, and the southern part is a buffer zone, recategorized and declared a protected area. The lake is surrounded by smaller water basins and a system of canals overgrown with marsh vegetation, salt crystallizers surrounded by a dike and a freshwater canal. The lake is approximately 9 km long, 4.3 km wide and its area is about 17 sq. km. It is located 1.5 meters below sea level, making it highly vulnerable. Its average depth is 30 cm.
In the region of Atanasovsko Lake there are 316 bird species (of approximately 423 species found in Bulgaria) that migrate, winter or nest in the reserve. Of these, 14 are globally endangered: Dalmatian pelican, pygmy cormorant, red-breasted goose, lesser white-fronted goose, curlew, corncrake, ferruginus duck. 83 species are listed in the Red Book of Bulgaria, and 170 species are of European conservation importance.
During the summer months the basins are full of plovers. The most numerous are the colonies of avocets, stilts, and terns. This is the only place where the sandwich tern, black-headed gull and little tern calandra multiply.
Since it does not freeze in winter, Atanasovsko Lake is a place of international importance for wintering water birds including shelducks, sheets, northern pintails, mallards, Dalmatian pelicans, white-fronted geese.
The Lake is located on the migratory route Via Pontica and is of European importance regarding the migration of soaring birds, especially pelicans, eagles, harriers and storks.
For more than 100 years, besides by the birds, the lake is used by the people for the extraction of the valuable salt. On the Bulgarian Black Sea coast salt production has had a centuries-long tradition, dating back to the III century BC. The salt-works on Atanasovsko Lake date back to 1906.
Currently, on the territory of the lake there are the salterns of "Black Sea Salt-Works" JSC, which produce about 40,000 tons of sea salt a year.
It has been established that the production of salt is proportional to the number of water birds on the lake and the good maintenance of the ecological conditions in the reserve increase the production of salt.
Salt production carried out today in the traditional way, is one of the best examples of a business that not only is environmentally friendly, but even creates suitable conditions for nesting of birds (the dikes used to separate the water basins are preferred for nesting by terns and gulls). The company’s production activities comply with the needs of the species which inhabit the lake.
Lye is a byproduct of salt production and contains only inorganic substances – sodium chloride, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, etc. It forms after the evaporation and concentration of salt in the lake water.
Black Sea lye has a proven medical effect – it is used for treatment and prevention of diseases associated with the locomotor mechanism, skin sores and wounds, varicose veins, and colds. It is recommended for treatment of osteoarthritis, arthritis, tendovaginitis, disc hernia, joint dislocations and sciatica. It is good to sit in the lye for no more than 20-30 minutes to avoid too much pressure on the heart.
Therapeutic mud is a sedimentary product of the closed Salt Lake. It is pure and homogeneous, dark gray to black in color and smells of hydrogen sulfide due to the many decaying microorganisms. It contains inorganic ingredients such as silica, sand, gypsum, iron and aluminum compounds, hydroxides and salts. This composition was formed by millennia of decay of single-celled organisms, algae, fish, crabs, mussels. One centimeter of therapeutic mud is formed for at least one year. The essence of mud treatment is an overall impact on the entire peripheral nervous system. The thermal properties of the mud expand the blood vessels and open new capillaries. This reduces swelling and pain, heals and reduces scars, enhance metabolism and regeneration processes. In addition to healing, the mud makes people look younger and more beautiful because calcium, iodine, phosphorus, etc. pass through the skin. The mud can treat almost the entire range of skin diseases, arthritis, disc hernia, gynecological problems, plexitis. It is counter-indicative only for tuberculosis, venereal diseases and cancer.
Here we have an interesting and curious example of the direct benefits from nature. On the one hand – healing, therapeutic mud is a proven means of treating rheumatic joint and skin diseases; on the other hand – salt-production and its relation to the presence of birds which it attracts.