The waters of the Danube, which flow into the Black Sea, form the largest and best preserved of Europe's deltas. The Danube delta hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species in its numerous lakes and marshes.
The reserve is vast in European terms with numerous freshwater Lakes interconnected by narrow channels featuring huge expanses of aquatic vegetation. This is the largest continuous marshland on Europe and the second-largest delta (the Volga being the largest), which includes the greatest stretch of reedbeds in the world. The marsh vegetation is dominated by reeds which form floating or fixed islands of decaying vegetation Reeds cover some 1,700 km2 and the floating reed islands (plaur ) 1,000 km2 , whereas the total area not inundated is only 148 km2 . The Razelm-Sinoie complex to the south comprises several large brackish lagoons separated from the sea by a sandbar. The overall basic hydrological and ecological system of the delta, although strongly degraded, is intact.
The higher ground supports stands of willow, popular, alder and oak. There are also sandy areas covered with feather grass and other steppe species. Forest elements are best observed in Letea Forest where a series of bands occur along dunes up to 250 m long and 10 m wide. The delta has been classified into 12 habitat types as follows: aquatic, lakes covered with flooded reedbeds; 'plaur', flooded islets; flooded reeds and willows; riverine forest of willows and poplars; cane-fields; sandy and muddy beaches; wet meadows; dry meadows (arid); human settlements; sandy and rocky areas; steep banks; and forests on high ground.
Over 300 species of bird have been recorded, of which over 176 species breed, the most important being cormorant, pygmy cormorant, white pelican and Dalmatian pelican. There are numerous multi-species heron colonies and raptor species including white-tailed eagle. The marsh tern colonies are especially notable. The delta holds huge numbers of geese in the winter white-fronted geese, red-breasted geese (a globally threatened species with almost all the world wintering population present), teal, mallard and pochard. The delta is very important for fish, with 45 fresh water species present. Otter and weasel are to be found on the floating islands. The Danube Delta is a remarkable alluvial feature constituting critical habitat for migratory birds and other animals. It is the major remaining wetland on the flyway between central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean and Middle East and Africa. It is exceptional for its contiguity of wetland ecosystem and currently supports endangered flora and fauna. The threats remain numerous and include intensive fish farming, shooting, canal and dyke construction and pollution and eutrophication. (Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC)
Freshwater Ecoregion of the World : #418 Dniester - Lower Danube
Major Habitat Type: temperate floodplain rivers and wetlands