Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca, Granada), Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada (Spanish: Lago de Nicaragua, Lago Cocibolca, Mar Dulce, Gran Lago, Gran Lago Dulce, or Lago de Granada) is a massive freshwater lake in Nicaragua of tectonic origin. With an area of 8264 km², it is the third largest lake in Latin America, the 21st largest lake in the world and only slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation of 32 m (105 ft) above sea level, the lake reaches a depth of 26 m (84 ft). It is intermittently joined by the Tipitapa River to Lake Managua.







The lake is connected to the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River, historically making the lakeside city of Granada, Nicaragua an Atlantic port although it is closer to the Pacific. The lake has a history of Caribbean pirates. Despite draining into the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean is near enough to be seen from the mountains of Ometepe.

Before construction of the Panama Canal, a stagecoach line connected the lake with the Pacific across the low hills of the narrow Isthmus of Rivas. Plans were made to take advantage of this route to build an interoceanic canal, the Nicaragua Canal, but the Panama Canal was built instead (see: Nicaraguan Canal). In order to quell competition with the Panama Canal, the U.S. secured all rights to a canal along this route in the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty of 1916. However, the idea of another canal in Nicaragua still periodically resurfaces. Ecocanal is one of these projects.
Lake Nicaragua, despite being a freshwater lake, contains sharks, including the Lake Nicaragua Shark (Carcharhinus nicaraguensis), which is fully adapted to freshwater life.[1] Due to this fact and the lake’s small distance from the Pacific Ocean, scientists believe that the area which is now the lake used to be a giant bay. Over time, the gap closed and a lake was formed with the sharks still inside of it. Recent studies have shown that the sharks may actually traverse the streams and rivers (San Juan River) that connect the lake to the Caribbean Sea.

Scientists thought the sharks in Lake Nicaragua were a separate species until they discovered that Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) were jumping the rapids, much like salmon, to enter the lake. [2]

Nicaraguans call it Lago Cocibolca or Mar Dulce (literally, Sweet Sea; in Spanish, freshwater is agua dulce). The lake has sizeable waves, but unlike ocean waves driven by the moon the lake waves are driven by the easterly winds blowing west to the Pacific Ocean and can be much more sporadic and choppy. The lake holds Ometepe and Zapatera which are both volcanic islands, as well as the archipelago of the Solentiname Islands. The lake has a reputation for periodically having powerful, unnavigable storms.

In the past 30 years, considerable concern has been expressed about the ecological condition of Lake Nicaragua. In 1981 the Nicaraguan Institute of Natural Resources and the Environment (IRENA) condition an environmental assessment study and found that half of water sources sampled were seriously polluted by sewage. It was found that 32 tons (70,000 pounds) of raw sewage was being released into Lake Managua daily. Industry located along the lake’s shore had been dumping effluent for an extended period of time. Pennwalt Chemical Corporation was found to be the worst polluter. Nicaragua’s economic situation has hampered the building of treatment facilities nationwide (see: Water supply and sanitation in Nicaragua).
[Source: Wikipedia]

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