|Surface area||1,040 km²|
The Songkhla lake (Thai: ทะเลสาบสงขลา, RTGS: Thale Sap Songkhla, IPA: [tʰa.leː sàːp sǒŋ.kʰlǎː]) is the largest natural lake in Thailand, located on the Malay peninsula in the southern part of the country. Covering an area of 1,040 km² it borders the provinces of Songkhla and Phatthalung. Despite being called a lake, this water surface is actually a lagoon complex geologically.
The lake is divided into three distinct parts. The southern part opens by a 380 m wide strait to the Gulf of Thailand at the city of Songkhla, and contains brackish water of about half the salinity of the ocean. Further north after a bottleneck of only 6 km width is the Thale Luang (782.80 km²), and finally at the northern end in between a mangrove swamp the 28 km² small Thale Noi in Phatthalung Province. The most striking feature is the long 75 km long spit which separates the lake from the sea. Unlike most spits, it is probably formed when originally existing islands became interconnected by the silting from the lake precursor.
Kuan Ki Sian of the Thale Noi Non-Hunting Area is located at 07º50’N 100º08’E. in a Non-hunting Area, Phatthalung. Located just north of the very large Thale Luang (Lake Songkhla Complex) in the south of the country, it is one of the few surviving intact freshwater wetland ecosystems in Thailand. Among the specific wetland types found here are lake, marsh, Melaleuca (also termed "paperbark") swamp forest, paddy fields, and swamp grasslands.
"Kuans" are islands free of water for most of the year located in the Melaleuca swamp forest. Kuan Ki Sian is a knoll at 0–2 meters above mean sea level within the Thale Noi area. The Thale Noi area is home to more than 5,000 families, almost all of which rely on some resource extraction or other land use within the area. Activities include fishing, cattle grazing, cultivation, mat-making and tourism. The site is visited by more than 200,000 foreign and local visitors annually.
A small population of Irrawaddy Dolphins is found in Thale Luang, near the Si-Ha Islands of Phatthalung, however threatened to extinction by the overfishing and pollution of the lake. The IUCN Red List shows several populations, including those in the Mahakam River and Malampaya Sound, as critically endangered.
- Wetlands in Thale Noi Wildlife Non-Hunting Area (with a fine map and picture)
- Cetacean Specialist Group (1996). Orcaella brevirostris. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 10 March 2007.