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The Syvash or Sivash[3] (Russian and Ukrainian: Сива́ш; Crimean Tatar: Sıvaş, Cyrillic: Сываш, "dirt"), also known as the Putrid Sea or Rotten Sea (Russian: Гнило́е Мо́ре, Gniloye More; Ukrainian: Гниле́ Мо́ре, Hnyle More; Crimean Tatar: Çürük Deñiz, Cyrillic: Чюрюк Денъиз), consists of a large system of shallow lagoons on the west coast of the Sea of Azov. Separated from the sea by the narrow Arabat Spit, the water of the Syvash covers an area of around 2,560 km2 (990 sq mi) and the entire area spreads over about 10,000 km2 (3,900 sq mi). Its eastern connection to the Sea of Azov is called the Henichesk Strait. The Syvash borders the northeastern coast of the main Crimean Peninsula; Central and Eastern Syvash registered as wetlands of Ukraine under Ramsar Convention, after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea became under a territorial dispute.

Map showing the Syvash.jpg
Map of the Crimea, showing the Syvash in black
Syvash is located in Crimea
Syvash is located in Ukraine
LocationSea of Azov
Coordinates46°05′N 34°20′E / 46.083°N 34.333°E / 46.083; 34.333Coordinates: 46°05′N 34°20′E / 46.083°N 34.333°E / 46.083; 34.333
River sourcesSalgir
Basin countries Ukraine,
 Russia (disputed)
Max. length200 km (120 mi)
Max. width35 km (22 mi)
Surface area2,560 km2 (990 sq mi)
Average depth0.5–1 m (1.6–3.3 ft)
Max. depth3 m (9.8 ft)
Official nameCentral Syvash
Designated11 October 1976
Reference no.115[1]
Official nameEastern Syvash
Designated23 November 1995
Reference no.769[2]



The Syvash nearly cuts the Crimean Peninsula off from the mainland, serving as a natural border for its autonomous republic. The long (110 km or 68 mi) and narrow (0.27–8 km or 0.17–5.0 mi) Arabat Spit runs to its east, separating it from the Sea of Azov. The two bodies are connected in the north at the Henichesk Strait beside the port of Henichesk. To its west, the isthmus of Perekop separates it from the Black Sea and connects Crimea to Ukraine.

Natural-colour satellite image of the Syvash

The Syvash is extremely shallow. The deepest place is about 3 meters (9.8 ft), with most areas between ½ and 1 meter (18 in to 3 ft) deep. The bottom is covered with silt up to 5 m (16 ft) thick. Being very shallow, the waters in the Syvash heat up in the summer and produce a putrid smell. The wide area for evaporation also leaves the water extremely salty. The amount of various salts is estimated at 200 million metric tons. Several plants[clarification needed] harvest the mineral resources of Syvash. The Syvash area is a wetland of international importance. The shores are low, slightly sloping, swampy and salty. In summer, the water level of Syvash decreases significantly, revealing barren solonets soils called "syvashes" by locals.

The Syvash is sometimes divided into the Western Syvash and Eastern Syvash. These are connected to each other by the Chongar Strait.


During the Russian Civil War, the Syvash became famous for a surprise crossing by the Red Army during the Perekop-Chongar Operation.


The Syvash may appear red in color due to the salt-tolerant micro-algae Dunaliella salina.[4]

The eastern parts of the Syvash contain less salt and are home to reeds and other wetland vegetation.[5]

The large islands in the Central Syvash are mainly covered with steppes consisting of feather grass, tulips, tauric wormwood (Artemisia taurica), sage, crested wheat grass, fescue.[5]

The shores of the Syvash contains a large number of salt-tolerant vegetation, including glasswort, Tripolium, plantains, sea lavender (Limonium caspium), saltbush (Atriplex aucheri).[5]



  1. ^ "Central Syvash". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Eastern Syvash". Ramsar Sites Information Service. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  3. ^   Baynes, T.S., ed. (1878). "Sea of Azoff" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (9th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 169.
  4. ^ Siwaschsee.
  5. ^ a b c V. Siokhin; I. Chernichko; V. Kostyushyn; N. Krylov; Yu. Andrushchenko; T. Andrienko; Ya. Didukh; V. Kolomijchuk; L. Parkhisenko; R. Chernichko; T. Kirikova (2000). V. Siokhin; V. Kostyushyn (eds.). Sivash: the lagoon between two seas (PDF). ISBN 9058829960. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-12.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Syvash at Wikimedia Commons