2 of 31


From mainland Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula extends southward, bordered on the west by the Black Sea and on the east by the Sea of Azov. Stretching across the peninsula is a network of shallow, marshy inlets sprawling over roughly 2,600 sq km (1,000 sq mi). This network of lagoons is known as Syvash (also Sivash or Sivas). During the summer months, the warmed marsh waters give off unpleasant odors, lending the region the nicknames of "Rotten Sea" or "Putrid Sea."
This natural-color satellite image shows the shallow waters and varied chemical composition of the Syvash lagoons contribute to their unearthly colors of peach, mustard, lime green, blue, blue-green, beige, and brown. Thick layers of silt coat the bottoms of the shallow marshes, which are rich enough in mineral salts to supply a local chemical plant.
Surrounding the marshy areas are mostly agricultural fields. Urbanized areas appear along the shores of the Black Sea, and highways curve and zigzag across the peninsula. Outside of the marshes, the land in this area is generally a level plain of arid steppe. In colder months, frosts alternate with thaws, and fogs are frequent. Photo courtesy of NASA.