Greater Black Sea Basin

Rich in wildlife and biodiversity, the Black Sea is sadly on the way to becoming just that – a sea blackened by pollution, oil spills and other environmental threats. WWF is working along the coast, in the water and throughout the region to protect one of the world's largest inland seas.

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Black Sea coast, Strandja Natural Park, Bulgaria.
© Michel GUNTHER / WWF-Canon

Black sea, blue river, green mountains

Bordered by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, the Black Sea and its surrounding areas are marked by majestic scenery and a rich cultural and natural heritage.

This includes not just the sea itself, but the Danube River Delta, Caucasus and Carpathian Mountains as well. The region's waters, coastlines, flooplains and mountains are home to an incredibly diverse range of wildlife and habitats.

Bears, wolves and lynx inhabit the old growth forests. In the Black Sea, one still finds bottlenose dolphins and about 180 species of fish, including tuna, anchovy, herring, mackerel and the famous white sturgeon. Monk seals, sadly, have become extinct here.

Environmental crossroads

The region’s natural wealth, however, is under severe pressure.

Pollution, oil spills, marine traffic, invasive species and overfishing threaten the sea and rivers. Excessive and illegal logging, intensive agriculture and unsustainable coastal development are problems on land.

The region is also vulnerable to climate change, which could add to the stress the region's natural systems are already under.

Today, the Black Sea region is at an environmental crossroads. It can continue on the path of neglect or it can move towards a more sustainable future.

In response to these challenges, WWF is working with local communities, organizations and governments to promote the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the Black Sea region for the benefit of people and environment.
 / ©: Andrey Nekrasov / WWF-Canon
Bottlenose dolphin numbers in the Black Sea are on the decline as a result of pollution and hunting.
© Andrey Nekrasov / WWF-Canon

From the Black Forest to the Black Sea

 / ©: WWF / A. Vorauer
Aerial view of the Danube Delta.
© WWF / A. Vorauer
Starting in Germany's Black Forest, the Danube River flows some 2,850km through cities, valleys and wide gorges before reaching the Black Sea via the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine.

The Delta is one of the world's largest wetlands – a unique habitat of canals, reed beds, lakes and ponds, and an important breeding site for hundreds of bird species, including the largest colony of pelicans outside of Africa and more than half of the world’s pygmy cormorant population. WWF is committed to saving the biodiversity and ecological value of this unique natural jewel.
 / ©: Andrey Nekrasov / WWF-Canon
Russian sturgeon. Black Sea, Ukraine.
© Andrey Nekrasov / WWF-Canon
 / ©: WWF Canon / Anton Vorauer
Great white pelicans, Danube Delta, Ukraine.
© WWF Canon / Anton Vorauer

Where is the Greater Black Sea Basin?

The Greater Black Sea Basin is highlighted in blue.


View WWF Critical Regions of the World in a larger map

Facts & Figures

    • The Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2 (168,495 sq mi), a maximum depth of 2,212m (7,257 ft) and a volume of 547,000 km3 (133,500 cu mi).
    • Some of Europe’s longest and largest rivers flow into the Black Sea, including the Danube, the largest tributary, as well as the Dnieper, Southern Bug, Dniester and Don.
    • It is connected to the Mediterranean Sea by the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmara, and to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.
    • Important cities along the Black Sea coast include: Istanbul, Turkey; Burgas, Bulgaria; Constanta, Romania; Odessa, Ukraine; Sochi, Russia; and Poti, Georgia.
    • The population of the greater Black Sea basin is more than 160 million.

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