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Absorbed in its own reflection Lake Salda
2003 /June

The view might have come straight out of a child's painting book; the sky so blue and the clouds so white, like candy floss. A bright sun shining over triangular green hills, apple and wild pear trees in blossom, and red tiled houses nestling amongst greenery. A long narrow earth road winds through opium poppy fields whose purple blooms are not yet in bud, orchards, and fields of green crops as transparent as jade in the sun. Its destination is the lake which lies absorbed in the beauty of its own reflection. In its spring garb, bedecked with flowers, its waters shading from pale green to turquoise and dark blue as they become deeper, the lake is tranquilly confident of its own beauty. From the summit of a triangular hill swathed in pine forest, the lake is like a circular glass bead surrounded by a gleaming ring of what looks like powder sugar. It lies alone in this bowl in the mountains, imaginary clouds and mountain tops shimmering in its clear blue mirror. Neither bird nor fish disturbs the water.

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Absorbed in its own reflection Lake Salda
2003 /June

Perhaps it likens itself to Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection, or in its loneliness finds consolation in its own company. When we descend to the lake shore it seems as fragile as Chinese porcelain, the sunlight filtering delicately through its transparent water and glinting on the encircling white ring. Lake Salda is a tectonic lake formed two million years ago, surrounded by forested hills, rocky outcrops and small alluvial plains. It is one of Turkey's deepest lakes, at 184 metres, and lies at an altitude of 1139 metres. It is located at Yeşilova in the province of Burdur, on the road between Antalya and Pamukkale. Analysis of the lake waters carried out by Hamburg University Department of Chemistry in 1988 showed that the water was pure enough to drink. The secret of this purity is the high level of magnesium sulphate in the water, which means that it harbours few fish or other aquatic life.

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Absorbed in its own reflection Lake Salda
2003 /June
Other factors are the low level of plankton on which fish can feed, and the receding water level over recent years, which has depleted the reed beds and marshes that serve as breeding grounds. The only fish now found here is a species of toothcarp (Aphanius anatolicus) that is confined to the mouths of streams that flow into the lake. While not hospitable to fish, the magnesium and soda content of the lake waters give them therapeutic qualities, and bathing is recommended for acne, fungal infections, and wounds. Clay from the lake bed is also good for numerous skin diseases. The white ring which encircles the lake like a halo consists of magnesium formations which crumble at a touch. The magnesium precipitated at the lake edge dries to form what from a distance looks like snow white beaches. This valuable source of magnesium was at one time exploited by industry and carried off by the truckload for using in pharmaceutical and detergent production. This has since been prohibited, but now another danger overshadows the lake: the steady depletion of its waters.
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Absorbed in its own reflection Lake Salda
2003 /June

Although the lake has a surface area of 4370 hectares today, in the Quaternary Period when there was abundant rainfall it covered a far larger area, reaching to the feet of the surrounding mountains. Ever since then its waters have risen and fallen over a 14-year cycle, but since the 1970s the water level has been diminishing on balance. However, high rainfall and heavy snow over the past two winters have restored the situation somewhat, with a rise of 60 centimetres. Local people say that the snow did not melt until the end of April this year. The lake is fed by the Göl, Degirmendere, Köpek, Çaldan and Sitlikli streams, and by the Sultan Springs to the south. The stream water is used for irrigating the fields around the lake and providing water for livestock. In 1989 the lake was declared a Nature Conservation Area. Many visitors to this beauty spot stay in caravans or tents on camping sites on the shore. Building development is forbidden, so there are only a scattering of pensions and restaurants.

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Absorbed in its own reflection Lake Salda
2003 /June
The use of motorised boats on the lake has also been forbidden at the request of local people, which means that Lake Salda is not only unspoilt but peaceful, and the perfect place to enjoy a holiday in the heart of nature. In winter the lake is a snowy wonderland with trees, houses, fields and hills all lying beneath a blanket of snow as white as the glistening magnesium 'beach'. Even in the hardest winters the lake never freezes, so the sapphire blue waters provide a spectacular contrast to the snow covered landscape. In winter, too, the lake has company at last, with the arrival of flocks of ferruginous and white-headed ducks.

* EMEL ÇELEBI
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