A Big Lake
Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America. Also, the 19th largest (by area) in the world and 9th largest in the Americas. With an area of just over 3000 square miles and an elevation just over 100 feet above sea level. It reaches depths of over eighty feet! Lake Nicaragua links to the Caribbean via outflow by the San Juan River. This makes the lakeside city of Granada an important Atlantic shipping port. Even though it is geographically closer to the Pacific.
Lake of Many Names
Known by several names- indigenous peoples referred to it as Cocibolca. The Spanish Conquistadors referred to it as La Me Dulce (the Sweet Sea). People from Granada refer to it as Lake Granada. This oval-shaped body of water is located in the Southern portion of Nicaragua and remains.
When the Spanish first saw Lake Nicaragua, they were convinced that it was a sea and it does exhibit many of the characteristics- an inability to see the other side, large waves and the dangerous storms that are most often associated with a different kind of body of water. Lake Nicaragua is also home to a species of freshwater shark and sawfish and tarpon- all usually associated with a saltwater habitat!
Great Natural Resources
A volcanic mountain chain runs directly thru the middle of Lake Nicaragua forming a chain of beautiful islands and groups of islets. The islands form a haven for wildlife and dense vegetation in the primary form of tropical dry forest. The most well known are the Ometepe Island where you find two volcanoes and also on the lake is the Solentiname Islands. The area of Lake Nicaragua is home to thousands of animal and bird species.
Large flocks of herons, and egrets and other water based birds including cormorants make their home in this environment. Birds of prey like hawks and kites also can regularly be seen feeding on the vast resources of the lake. Birding is very popular in the islets, and several of the different archipelagos have bird sanctuaries. They are relevant to the conservation of different species, as well as attracting specific groups of tourists. The most famous of all of the “inhabitants” of Lake Nicaragua is the freshwater shark!