Lake Kerkini, Serres, Greece

Lake Locations:

Greece - Central Macedonia - Serres -

Also known as:  Limni Kerkinis

FlocksFlocks of pelicans, grebes and ducks cluster in pockets and bob on Kerkini Lake in Central Macedonia in northern Greece. In the shallows around the lake, flamingos and storks step carefully, lifting their thin legs while they fish interrupted only by the occasional great white egret. With birds as far as the eye can see, Kerkini Lake is a bird watcher’s paradise.

Kerkini Lake, or Limni Kerkinis as it is known to the locals, is a man-made reservoir. In the early 1920’s approximately 85,000 Greek and Armenian refugees fled Turkey and settled around the area near Kerkini Lake. Two lakes, Kerkini and Achinos, and an extensive wetland covered the region which was prone to flooding. The flooding made agriculture impossible, and the swampy wetlands bred malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Within a few years of settling there, 20 percent of the refugees were dead, and the Greek government had to change the situation. An embankment was constructed to redirect the Strymon River into the original Kerkini Lake which was dammed to create a holding and irrigation reservoir. Lake Achinos and some of the surrounding wetlands were drained. As a result, Limni Kerkinis was made much larger and was able to absorb the river’s fluctuations.

Over the next 50 years the size of Kerkini Lake was altered several times. The embankments were raised and the lake’s surface area increased. In 1982 a new dam and embankment were constructed at Lithotopos, bringing Limni Kerkini up to its present size. Water levels on the lake still fluctuate significantly over the course of the year, ranging from 12,726 surface acres to 18,385 surface acres. The lake begins to fill up in late winter, continuing until early summer when the water is drawn down to use for irrigation. Although conditions in the area improved significantly for the human inhabitants, fluctuations in depth of up to 14 feet present a challenge for the birds, wildlife and plants that live near the lake.

Kerkini Lake is one of Greece’s most important bird habitats with over 300 species of birds documented around the lake. The lake sits on the migratory flyway for birds traveling to the Aegean Sea, Balkans, Black Sea and the Hungarian Steppes. It is also the over-wintering site for the pygmy cormorant and the internationally threatened Dalmatian pelican. Limni Kerkinis and the surrounding area are part of a National Nature Reserve and are recognized as a Wetland of International Importance by the RAMSAR Convention – one of only ten sites in Greece. Paths ring the lake providing access for bird watching, and it is considered by some to be the best all around birding site in Greece with tens of thousands of birds on and around the lake year round.

Kerkini Lake’s irregular shape is about ten and a half miles long and a little over three miles wide. It is in the Prefecture (province) of Serres in Central Macedonia in northern Greece, just 29 miles from Bulgaria. There are a few small villages nearby, including Kerkini which is the home of the Kerkini Wetland Information Center. The Lake Kerkini Center for Ecotourism is in Lithotopos. A particularly scenic road connects the villages of Kerkini and Lithotopos and runs along the shore of Lake Kerkini. It is possible to hire boats at some of the villages, and kayaks and sailboats are a great way to explore Limni Kerkinis. Guest houses, hotels, holiday villas and vacation rentals are all available in the area. Local fishermen compete with the birds for the lake’s fish which include carp, roach, European chub, asp, bleak, Macedonian vimba, Wels catfish, and European perch. Local taverns serve the fish along with the area’s buffalo and buffalo milk cheese dishes.

Limni Kerkinis is a good example of the interconnectedness of humans and nature. A lake that was created to facilitate agriculture has ultimately become much more important as a resource for birds and the tourists that flock after them. Careful balance and attention to both has built an environment that is recognized for its value internationally and by the locals who depend on it.

Things to do at Lake Kerkini

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Kerkini

  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Perch
  • Roach

Lake Kerkini Photo Gallery

    Lake Kerkini Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Management Authority of Kerkini Wetland

    Surface Area: 18,385 acres

    Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 108 feet

    Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 122 feet

    Maximum Depth: 33 feet

    Water Volume: 333,203 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1982

    Drainage Area: 6,564 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Eutrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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