The vegetation is dense in most of the islands and islets of the lake, and consists of tropical dry forest. But in two peaks in the area, the volcanoes Maderas, Ometepe and Mombacho on the shores of lake near Granada Lake, there is also a unique ecosystem. These are the only two sites in the Nicaraguan Pacific coast where you can find the forest cloud forest, where the flora and fauna is simply stunning.
Thousands of different species of animals live in the lake or near the water. The most easily observed are the birds that feed on fish, plants and other aquatic animals. Birds can be observed in all sectors of the lake, but are especially abundant in the islands and islets. Wading birds such as herons and egrets, often with standing on the riverbank, and large groups of cormorants can be seen while hunting or while they remain motionless in the sun, drying their feathers. Birds of prey like hawks and kites also hunt around the lake. Hundreds of other species can be seen in the area, but for those who enjoy bird watching some ideal spots to watch a huge variety of birds are Istian river on the island of Ometepe, the archipelago of Solentiname and the islets of Granada.
Perhaps the most interesting natural aspect of Nicaragua Lake is its underwater fauna. More than 40 different species of fish live in the lake, including 16 species of cichlids. In 1995, a scientific report estimated that the native cichlids constituted 58% of the biomass of the lake. The study also found that these species were mostly exploited, so that their population may have declined today.
The most famous inhabitant of the lake, however, is the so-called 'freshwater shark. " This huge fish, Carcharhinus leucas, is generally known as the bull shark in the Caribbean. High tolerance of the freshwater shark allowed it to adapt to the San Juan River water, which in turn gave access to Nicaragua Lake. Although at first they travel between the lake and the Caribbean, young sharks were better adapted to become able to reproduce in fresh water. Thus, the freshwater shark became a permanent resident of the lake. Because of their aggressive behavior (bull shark is known to attack people) it symbolized a resident feared by fishermen on the lake. However, during the reign of the Somoza dynasty, a processing plant of shark fins was installed at the source of the river San Juan. Thousands and thousands of sharks were caught and killed each year by this Japanese plant, and shark populations plummeted. Today, it is estimated, only a few sharks survive shyly and this species is most feared predator in the waters of the lake. In fact, the animal became a legendary figure who is often mentioned related to the lake, although he is not seen more. Recent media reports of shark sightings date back to 2000, and although the inhabitants of the river San Juan say they have seen sharks from time to time, the few recent scientific research considered that the population of freshwater shark is virtually defunct .
Another interesting lake fish and the endangered sawfish (Pristis perotteti) and swordfish (Pristis pectinatus). GASP, similar species sawfish, is traditionally eaten as a dish at Easter in Nicaragua, which also is at risk of extinction.
Another natural phenomenon of Lake Nicaragua is that its long, flat surface allows strong currents of wind that finally reach the coast. In the southwestern coast of the lake, particularly prevailing winds, and because of this feature is currently investigating some windmills projects. Considering the dependence of Nicaragua in oil imports for energy, these projects are worthy of consideration for its potential to lower electricity prices and create a renewable energy source and clean. With a coastline of more than 100 windy miles, the possibilities are definitely many.
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