Orbital View: Desert Leaves

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Benjamin Grant refers to this scene as “leaf-like impressions on the shore of Musa Bay, near the Shadegan Wildlife Refuge in Iran”:

The stunning estuary has been a place of commerce for millennia:

Before draining into the Persian Gulf, several rivers and streams in southern Iran converge into Musa Bay, a shallow estuary with a long history as a port. As far back as 326 B.C.E., the Greek navigator Nearchos noted that the area was already a shipping center. Today, it supports Bandar Imam Khomeini, Iran’s busiest port city.

Here’s a bit of background on Shadegan, from The Guardian:

To drive out to Shadegan wetland 100km south of Ahvaz is to see Khuzestan change from farmlands and orchards, to barren desert, and suddenly to a marsh. Shadegan, one of the first international wetlands registered at the Ramsar Convention of February 1971, covers 300,000 hectares. All across Shadegan lie green palm trees bearing the sweetest dates. Sheep, cows and water buffalo fill the plain. Birds, in their plenty, fly across the horizon and one may land on the back of a water buffalo, which will casually remain relaxed in the water.

(See all Orbital Views here)