Overland Traveller



In search of freshwater bull sharks: kayaking Isla de Ometepe, Lake Nicaragua (Pg 4)

Evening light, Lake Nicaragua, Isla de Ometepe © Craig FastSo where have Lake Nicaragua’s bull sharks gone? The species is fairly common in the rest of the world; its territory spreads from Australia to New Jersey and the first Nicaragua bull sharks made their way up the San Juan River, which forms part of Nicaragua’s border with Costa Rica. The sharks leapt like salmon up the river’s rapids to the safer waters of Lake Nicaragua to reproduce and some stayed there to form a local population.

A number of theories explain their rapidly declining numbers. Their route to Lake Nicaragua has been impeded by sediment build up in the San Juan River, partially caused by deforestation in Costa Rica. In the mid-20th century a Japanese shark-fin processing plant was built on the shores of the river, leading to the capture and death of thousands of sharks. Whatever the cause, concerns about the declining population led Nicaraguan officials to ban freshwater fishing of sharks in 2006. Costa Rica has yet to introduce a similar ban. Nowadays Lake Nicaragua’s bull shark population is considered virtually wiped out, although inhabitants of the San Juan River bank do occasionally report sightings.

It seems I should have been more concerned about the lack of bull shark presence in Lake Nicaragua than falling prey to one. It’s worth remembering that you’re more likely to get killed by lightening than by a shark. If I had known that then I would have spent less time fruitlessly scanning for dorsal fins and more time soaking up the exquisite beauty of Isla de Ometepe and Lake Nicaragua, the real stars of the show.

See related features, reviews and images
Feature: 15 things to do on Isle de Ometepe
Review: Totoco Eco Lodge, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Review: Hotel Finca del Sol, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Review: Hotel La Omaja, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Images: Nicaragua - Isla de Ometepe & Granada

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