With its beautiful and unspoiled nature, Shabla Lake Complex is among the most representative places of the Natura 2000 network in Europe. It is also an Important Bird Area (IBA) and Ramsar site, designated for the conservation of rare and endangered species and habitats – coastal freshwater and brackish lakes, sandy beaches and reedbeds that thousands of birds use as roosts during migration or while wintering. This lake complex provides opportunities for developing year-round eco-tourism, but particularly popular are the bird watching tours.
Another coastal lake, Durankulak Lake, is located 20 km to the north. It is one of the most important wetlands in Bulgaria from an ornithological point of view and regularly hosts globally significant numbers of breeding, migratory and wintering birds. It is designated as an Important Bird Area, Natura 2000 Special Protected Area, and a Ramsar Site. The wetland consists of a coastal lake with associated marshland and sand dunes, and is surrounded by steppe grasslands and arable lands used for intensive crop production. It is also a site of high historical and archeological importance, with evidence of some of the oldest civilizations in Europe.
Located on a major bird migration route in Europe – the Via Pontica – the two wetlands attract a huge number of migratory waterbirds each year. Their fame, however, is due to the huge concentrations of Red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis) and Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) that come from the tundra of Europe and Asia to overwinter in the area, attracted by the calm, milder winters and the large arable areas where they can feed. Since the 1950s, about three – quarters of the global population of the Red-breasted Goose spend the winter near Shabla Lake Complex and the nearby Durankulak Lake.