The sandbanks are quite a peculiarity of the Danube Delta's configuration. They have been made by alluvia deposited either by the water of the river (river sandbanks) or by the water of the sea (maritime sandbanks) along time; their origin may be also sought in fragments of plain left between the waters. Whatever their origin, the sandbanks in the Danube Delta lend a special character to the landscape, and are related to the growth of a special kind of vegetation.
Letea is the largest maritime sandbank in the Danube Delta, with a 20 km length, a 15 km maximum breadth, a surface of 17,000 ha and its maximum height of 13 m. It is shaped as an isosceles triangle, with its point at Periprava and its base in the proximity of Sulina branch. The soil consists of sand gathered in dunes which sometimes are over 3 m high; they are inhabited by tortoises, yellow and green lizards; there are also over 1,800 species of insects, among which the large fly (Satanas gigas), 11 species that have not been listed in specialized literature, and one species of night butterfly (Rhyparioides metelkana) which is now extinct from Europe. Near the village of Letea lies the forest by the same name, acknowledged as a monument of nature (see also Flora).
Caraorman is a maritime sandbank situated south of Sulina branch, also shaped as an isosceles triangle, with its point at Crisan and its base near Sfântu Gheorghe branch. It is 18 km long, it has a maximum breadth of 8 km, 7,000 ha, and 6,7 m as its highest altitude. The sandy soil winds in endless sand dunes which can reach a 7 m height, thus resembling a real desert. In the western part of the sandbank is to be found the Caraorman forest, a monument of nature (see also Flora). Saraturile (salt sandbanks), a maritime sandbank situated north of the village of Sfântu Gheorghe with 9 km in length, 10 km maximum breadth, 7,500 ha, and 4 m as its highest altitude, is, according to certain authors, the former Peuce island mentioned by the ancient geographer Strabon. The soil is sandy, with dunes 2 m high and a poor vegetation made up of halophyte plants (adapted to salt marshes) and xerophite plants (adapted to drought). When the sand is burning hot, mirages occur, just like in the desert.
Chilia, a sandbank situated north of the locality by the same name, is 15 km long, 5 km broad, 5,500 ha and 6.5 m as its highest altitude; it is actually what was left of a plain, which is now surrounded by water.
Stipoc, a fragment of predeltaic land formed of river alluvia, is an extensive sandbank in between the locality Pardina (Chilia branch) and the south of the Chilia sandbank. It is 30 km long, with a maximum breadth of 2.5 km, a surface of 3,500 ha, and a maximum height of 3 m.
Crasnicol is a maritime sandbank situated south of the locality Sfântu Gheorghe (18 km long); together with other many and large sandbanks, it amounts to about 3,500 ha. Sandbanks are very much like marshes too, as the land may emerge or submerge overnight. The area is Danube Delta's realm for migratory and passage birds.
The Danube Delta Gate
"Tulcea - where, what, why"
I was borned in Tulcea and I grew up there, and even though for the moment I don't live there anymore, my roots are still in it and I come back with love whenever I can.
Situated in the sout-east of Romania, it is said that it's located like Rome, on seven hills, and, like Rome, it has a long history back.
But I wouldn't take this parallelism any longer. Tulcea it's rather a small town with its 100-150 thousands citizens.
What makes it special it's the old Danube and the proximity of the Danube Delta.
Basically, Tulcea is the entry point for the Danube Delta. From here you can take the regular passenger ship to one of the 3 branches of the Danube, or you can rent your own boat that will take you on the touristic routes or you can go by car to one of the villages situated on the southern arm of the Danube : 'Sfantu Gheorghe'.
Danube Delta - History
"Among the rivers that have a fame and are navigable up from the sea there is also the Ister" - wrote Herodot of Halicarnas in Histories (484-425 BC), the earliest description of the Lower Danube lands; Publius Ovidius Naso (cca AD 10-15) noticed, he too, that "... the Danube is the biggest, / By no means does it want to be lower than the Nile".
Europe's second largest river and the world's 26 th, with almost 2,900 km length, a basin of over 800,000 sq.km populated by some 80,000,000 inhabitants in eight countries - this is the business card of the generous waterway that has for millennia been the "thoroughfare" known, appreciated and travelled by the Phoenician long boats, Greek triremes, Roman galleys, Byzantine, genoese boats and caravels, Venetian galleons, Turkish bolozans, Cossask ships in the earlier days, tug boats, barges and motor boats nowdays. "Istros" in in the language of the Argonauts and in the mythology on the Nile banks, "Phisos" for the Phoenicians, "Danare" - "Donaris" for the Thraco-Getae, "Istrus" - "Histr" - "Danubius" for the Romans, known as "Rio Divino" at the court of Charles V and seen as "Le roi des fleuves de l'Europe" by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Danube traverses Romania's territory along its last 1,075 km, ending in a Delta - the most representative on the old continent and one of the most complex in the world.
"The Danube enters our country as if through a monumental triumphal arch through the Cazane Gorges, and leaaaves it throughh the hugem gorgeous, magnificent dovetail of the Delta" (Geo Bogza). It is an original place, unique of the kind: Europe's youngest land, neighbouring some of the planet's oldest mountains (Macin, a 400,000-year old Hercinian massif) - a motley of water and land, permanently struggling, permanently changing, a criss-cross of channels, bank ridges, creeks, rain forests, river and marine dunes, in an ample and permanent metamorphosis. No wander thet historical references differ: Herodotus believed that the Danube was merging with the sea though five arms, an account sustained by Eratostene from Alexandria and the Greek Polybiu (272-120 BC), but contradicted at the beginning of the first millennium AD by gepgrapher Stabo of Pont, who counted seven arms, by the Roman Pliny the Old, who was sure there were six of them, by the Egyptian Claudius Ptolemy (cca AD 90-168), who believed the Danube merged with the sea through seven arms, including "the Holy Mouth"; the Middle Ages maps are not of the same opinion either. According to some, the Danube ends now in the Sea of Marmara and then in the Dardanelles and, if it does take its water to the Black Sea, the maps show either one-two arms, or some five-six, and one lost even in the port of Constanta... It was late in 1856 that English captain Spratt drew a map closer to reality; meaning to his time's reality, since things are already different now; the lighthouses built on the sea shore in 1802 (Sulina) and 1865 (Sf. Gheorghe) stand now two-three km behind the sea line!
If we consider that at the point of the "delta" - a triangle similar to the Greek letter that lent its name to it - where the first branching of the arms occours, the river's average discharge is about 6,300 cu.m/second, we will understand the meaning of the fact that in two minutes there flows water enough to meet a day's consumption of a city over 1,000,000 inhabitants; the water carries some two tons of alluvia in suspension every second.