The Persian Gulf is a waterway that runs along the Sea of Oman between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. It covers an area of 237,473 square kilometers and is the third largest in the world after the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Hudson.
From east, Persian Gulf is connected to to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea through the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. Persian Gulf is bordered by Iran, Oman, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. Meanwhile, the northern shores of the Persian Gulf are all part of Iran's political geography. Due to the rich oil and gas resources in the Persian Gulf and its shores, this waterway is considered an important and strategic area at the international level.
The historical name of this gulf, in various languages, has been the translation of the phrase "Persian Gulf" or "Persian Sea". Also, in all legal international organizations, the official name of this bay is "Persian Gulf", but some Arab countries have recently tempted to call it the "Arabian Gulf" or simply the Gulf. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) uses the name "Iranian Gulf" for this bay.
Geologists believe that about 500,000 years ago, the primitive form of the Persian Gulf was formed along the southern plains of Iran, and over time, due to changes in the internal and external structure of the earth, it found its current constant form. The present-day Persian Gulf, together with its northwestern continuation now infilled by the deposits of the Mesopotamian rivers, is the remains of a once much larger basin of deposition aligned northwest to southeast that existed throughout much of geologic history.
In the beginning, the Persian Gulf was so vast that by the end of the third geological period, most of the plains of Borazjan, Behbahan, and Khuzestan of Iran were submerged up to the Zagros Mountains. In this basin vast quantities of sediments accumulated—mostly limestone and marls (a mixture of calcareous and silicate mud), together with evaporites and organic matter—which ultimately produced the area’s extensive oil resources.
Climate of the Persian Gulf
The climate of the Persian Gulf is dry and semi-tropical. Temperatures are high in summer and it sometimes reaches 50 degrees Celsius, so that the rate of evaporation would be higher than the amount of water input. Though winters may be quite cool at the northwestern extremities and the temperature is reported to be as low as 3 degrees Celsius.
In addition to the high salinity of the Persian Gulf, there are 200 freshwater springs on the bottom and 25 completely fresh water springs on its shores, all of which originate from the Zagros Mountains in Iran. The freshwater that enters the Persian Gulf is mainly confined to the runoff of the Zagros Mountains in Iran and the mountains of Turkey and Iraq.
The Arvand, Karun, Jarahi, Mand, Dalaki and Minab rivers are the largest and most abundant rivers flowing into the Persian Gulf, most of which originate in the Zagros Mountains. In the southern coast, the number of waters entering the Persian Gulf is very low, which has led to high carbonate sediments in this area. Due to its enclosure, the effect of the ocean on the Persian Gulf is very small, and therefore the speed of its lower and horizontal currents is very low, about 10 cm per second. The greater salinity of the Persian Gulf than the ocean gives rise to the flow of water from the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, which runs parallel to the coast of Iran and in a counter-clockwise direction
There are many islands in the Persian Gulf, some of which are of little importance and some are strategical for the country economy. Most of the important islands in the Persian Gulf belong to Iran such as Qeshm, Kish, Khark, Abu Musa, Tonb-e Bozorg, Tonb-e Kuchak, Hormuz and Lavan Island.Among the islands of the Persian Gulf, more than 30 residential and non-residential islands belong to Iran. Some of these islands get regularly submerged due to the tide. These uninhabited islands are of special global importance as habitats for corals, nests of sea swallows and turtles, as well as habitats for migratory birds. The largest island of the Persian Gulf is called Qeshm.
Qeshm Island, Iran
Hormuz Island, Iran
The biggest importance of the Persian Gulf is the existence of rich oil and gas resources on the the sea bed and its shores, so that this area is called the "World Oil Reservoir". The Persian Gulf is a transit route for oil from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and is therefore an important and strategic region. About 30 percent of the world's oil is supplied from the Persian Gulf region, which sometimes increases and sometimes decreases. Oil produced in the Persian Gulf must be transported through the Strait of Hormuz.
In terms of oil resources, the Persian Gulf has many advantages over other parts of the world, such as ease of extraction, low production costs, excess production capacity, high quality of crude oil, ease of transportation, high production capacity of wells and the possibility of discovering new vast oil reserves. According to the latest statitstics, Persian Gulf reserves about 730 billion barrels of oil reserves and more than 70 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. There are also important ports on the Persian Gulf, including Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Bandar Lengeh, Kish, Khorramshahr and Mahshahr port in Iran, and Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, and the ports of Basra and Al-Faw port in Iraq.
Left: Aground Greek Ship, Kish, Iran | Right: Hormuz Island Shore, Iran
The Persian Gulf is one of the largest habitats for marine organisms such as corals, small ornamental fish, edible and non-edible fish, oysters, snails, mollusks, sea anemones, sea sponges, Jelly fish, turtles, many dolphins and sharks. Environmentalists are concerned about endangered various species of mammals in the Persian Gulf due to water pollution and lack of sufficient knowledge. Drought and lack of nutrients entering the water have caused some Persian Gulf aquatic species to remain underdeveloped.
More than 150 different species of fish are found in the Persian Gulf. Most of the Persian Gulf aquatic animals live in salty waters, except for a few that enter the fresh waters of Karun, Bahman Shir and Arvand rivers, where they lay eggs and reproduce. The most important types of commercial fish in the Persian Gulf are Silver pomfret (Pampus argenteus), Indo-Pacific king mackerel (Scomberomorus guttatus), The narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), Javelin grunt (Pomadasys kaakan), Redmouth grouper (Aethaloperca rogaa ), Parrotfish, Black pomfret, Drums (Sciaenidae), Ilish, Flounders, and Snappers. Other valuable food products in the Persian Gulf include shrimp. A variety of edible oysters are also found on some beaches, such as Bandar Abbas Beach and Gasheh Beach (Oyster Beach) in the port of Lengeh, as well as around some islands such as Hormoz, Qeshm and Lark, the main markets of which are European countries.
Iran is the largest fishery producer in the region, with a 2,440 km coastline along the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, and a 740 km coastline in the north along the southern part of the Caspian Sea.There are many fish landing areas in southern Iran, distributed all along the coastline, and despite gradually increasing effort, the total catch has fluctuated in recent years.
Five of the eight species of existing turtles in the world live in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Two species of eagle turtles and green turtles lay their eggs on the coasts and islands of Iran. These two turtles live on the coasts of islands such as Hormuz, Lark, Qeshm, and shallow coastal areas, and their main spawning sites are on the islands of Hormuz, Hengam, Farur, Shidur, Lavan, and Kish. Fishing activities, the presence of garbage, sewage and oil pollution is poisoning the Persian Gulf turtle population.
Left: Requiem sharks of Persian Gulf | Right: Hawksbill sea turtle, Kish Coral Beach, Iran
Dolphins and whales are among the mammals that live in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Bottlenose dolphins, as well as Porpoises live in the south of Qeshm Island, near the islands of Hengam, Salarak and Hormuz – Places that are exposed to various dangers.
Lack of adequate research and lack of expertise have reduced the number of Humpback whales and gray whales. The collision of dolphins and whales with boats and their Propellers , as well as the pollution of some parts of the Persian Gulf with oil and chemical pollutants, threaten the lives of these mammals. According to some reports, the Persian Gulf whale is in danger of extinction.
Left: Scuba Diving in Kish Island, Iran | Right: Hengam Island Dolphins
4Sharks of the Persian Gulf
Sharks are a group of cartilaginous fish with a spindle-shaped body whose ancestors lived 450 million years ago. Sharks are one of the most valuable aquatic animals, which have long been chased for their profitable use of meat, vitamin-rich oils, fins, skin, and teeth. On the other hand, because of misunderstanding and unnecessary fear of this animal , they have been brutally invaded by humans.
These fish have the largest liver among all aquatic animals and use an organ called "Ampullae of lorenzini" to receive their prey's electric field. The fish also have heat exchangers deep in their muscles that keep their body temperature above 10 deegrees C more than the environment water heat.
Seven species of sharks live in the waters of the Persian Gulf, including Requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae), Long-tailed carpet sharks, whale sharks (Rincodon tidae), Scalloped hammed head (Sphranidae), Houndsharks (Triakidae), Zebra Sharks (Stegostomatidae) , and zebra sharks. Due to the high price of sharks compared to other fish in the Persian Gulf, overfishing has increased dramatically in recent years, putting their offspring at risk of extinction. Since most shark species living in the Persian Gulf are living, it is not possible to develop a good program to revive their offspring. Also, these sharks move to shallower bodies (which provide the lowest temperature for their offspring) at birth, and increasing the destruction of coastal areas is another threat to their offspring's survival.
Mangrove forest of Qeshm gets submerged at night due to the tide, in the salty waters of the sea, and during the day it emerges from the water. Harra Forest has certain types of trees whose roots sweeten the salty water and feed the tree.
Persian Gulf National Day
One of the steps taken by the Iranian government to protect the spiritual and cultural heritage of the Persian Gulf was to recognize the Persian Gulf National Day in the country's official calendar. In this regard, in July 2005, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution named April 29th, which coincides with the expulsion of the Portuguese from the Strait of Hormuz, as the National Day of the Persian Gulf.