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The sixth largest delta in the world, the Indus Delta, is located at the mouth of the Indus River and covers almost the entire coast of Sindh.
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Introduction to Pakistan Wildlife Biodiversity of Pakistan Ecological Zones of Pakistan

Section 5: Coastline

The coastline of Pakistan extends 1,050 km (650 mi), 250 km falling in Sind province and 800 km in Balochistan. It borders the productive NE Arabian Sea famous for its upwelling phenomenon. Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of 196,600 and the territorial waters cover an area of 24,000 km2. The continental shelf of the Sindh coast extends to a distance of 150 km whereas that of Balochistan only measures 15-40 km. The prevailing ocean current direction is clockwise during the southwest monsoon season and anti-clockwise during the northeast monsoon season. The salinity value is generally 36 ppt. Tides are neither very high nor very low, but intermediate; the mean average height is about 10-11 feet. Tides are higher on the eastern side and their velocity is generally between 1-2 knots but may increase to 4 knots in narrow creeks.

The Makran Coast Range forms a narrow strip of mountains along about 75 percent of the total coast length, or about 800 km (500 mi). These steep mountains rise to an elevation of up to 1,500 m (5,000 ft). Most of the coast is underdeveloped, with deserted beaches and only a few fishing villages.

The coast is rugged and tectonic in origin as evidenced by the uplifted terraces, headlands and fluted beds. The mud volcanoes present along the shores further support this. The coastline is mostly bare desert with unique landforms such as sandy beaches, mud flats, rocky cliffs, headlands, bays, deltas, etc. Brief descriptions of these are given in the following section.

Habitat Types along Pakistan's Coastline:

Sandy beaches are common along Balochistan's shores but rare in Sindh. Well-known beaches in Pakistan include Somniani, Hingol River, Ormara, Pasni, and Gawadar in Balochistan, and Clifton and Hawks Bay in Sindh.

Cliffs and Headlands
Rocky shores and cliffs are prevalent in Balochistan. They are generally composed of conglomerates of soft mudstone and sandstone, which are highly susceptible to erosion. Headlands are prominent in Jiwani, Pisukan, Gawadar Rasjaddi and Ormara, and are intervened by low-lying places comprised of alluvial deposits. Irregular cliffs present at Ras Malan are a result of tectonic activity. Several deep-seated faults are also evident. The Sindh coast on the other hand, is very poor in rocky shores. Buleji, Manora Rocky Ledge, Cape Monze, and a few other small sites are present in the extreme western part of the province. The steep cliffs at Cape Monze are a trajectory of Mor and Kirthar Ranges, and are composed of hard limestone.

Bays and lagoons
Bays and lagoons are protected bodies of water surrounded by land having an opening into the sea. In bays, the opening is wide, whereas in lagoons it is very narrow. There are no bays or lagoons along the Sindh coast, but several along the Balochistan coast, such as Gawadar Bay, Ormara Bay and Somniani Bay. Sandy coasts in a curvilinear pattern fringe the first three mentioned bays, which are slowly being destroyed by erosion. There are only two lagoons in the country, both of which are also located in Balochistan. These are the lagoons of Kalmat Khor and Miani Hor, which harbor dense mangrove vegetation on the insides.

Mud Flats
Mud flats are gently sloping, unconsolidated inter-tidal parts of estuaries, and are always occupied by marsh vegetation. Tidal flats are the same except that they lack vegetation. The entire Indus Delta and most of the Sindh coast is comprised of mud flats with mangrove vegetation. Mud flats are nonexistent in Balochistan except in Gawadar Bay, Kalmat Khor and Miani Hor lagoons.

Mud Volcanoes
Mud volcanoes are conical hills or mountains with a crater on top through which they gently emit liquid, mud and gas. They are commonly associated with petroleum deposits, hence their presence indicates high petroleum potential along the Makran coast. Mud volcanoes generally emit muddy and saline water, but occasionally large masses of rock are violently blown hundreds of feet into the air. The gases that are discharged include methane, ethane and traces of unsaturated hydrocarbons. Mud volcanoes are a common occurrence in Balochistan but are not found in Sindh.

Estuaries are coastal embankments that receive substantial freshwater runoff from land, and experience open tidal circulation with the ocean. In other words, estuaries are the mouths of rivers opening into the sea. There are three major estuaries in Pakistan, the largest one being the Indus estuary on the Sindh coast. The other two are the Hingol and Dasht estuaries both located in Balochistan.

Deltas are an accumulation of sediments at the mouths of rivers where they empty into basins. Deltas consist of three major parts: the delta plain, delta front and prodelta. There are several small deltas at the mouths of seasonal rivers in Balochistan. However, one of the largest deltas in the world, the Indus Delta, is located at the mouth of the Indus River and covers almost the entire coast of Sindh. It forms a remarkably uniform landform with large extensive mud flats being intervened by narrow creeks, which are remnants of old, Indus tributaries. The western part of the delta between Phitti Creek and Karachi Harbor is now abandoned, although at one time the Indus River used to flow close to Karachi.


Map showing coastline of Pakistan 

Map Credit: Atlas of Pakistan, Survey of Pakistan 


References and Credits:

  • Pakistan," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004 © 1997-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

  • Biodiversity Action Plan for Pakistan © 2000 by Government of Pakistan, World Wide Fund for Nature, Pakistan and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Pakistan

  • First National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, LEAD Pakistan, Ministry of Environment and Local Government Pakistan and UNEP

  • COUNTRY REPORT BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN PAKISTAN, Ejaz Ahmad Conservation Director, World Wide Fund For Nature - Pakistan

  • BIODIVERSTIY CONSERVATION IN PAKISTAN : AN OVERVIEW, Muhammad Ajmal Director (Industries & Ozone) Ministry of Environment, Urban Affairs, Forestry and Wildlife C/O Pakistan National, Commission for UNESCO

  • Pakistan at a Glance, The World Resource Institute



©1997-2004 Wildlife of Pakistan-All Rights Reserved.