Sharks of Lake Nicaragua

The Central Bank Reports that during 2004 $222,000 worth of shark fins were exported to the Asian market (probably Japan). It would not surprise me that the few remaining lake sharks are being slaughtered, but maybe they are from the ocean. We need some investigative reporting in Nicaragua.

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Sharks in the Lake

There was an article in The Nica Times several months ago about the sharks. The reporter talked to the director of Adpesca and other fisheries experts who said that the shark population in the lake is down to just a few babies that have been spotted by local fisherman near Chontales. There are sharks in the Rio San Juan , but the population has dwindled in recent years due to Costa Rican shark finning. There were also some shark fishing companies on lake nicaragua in the 70s that did a real number on the shark population, according to the article.

Sharks in Lake Nicaragua

I heard from a fisherman that some of these endangered guys have been spotted near Solentiname Island. Very few survive today and they are not extinct. They were wiped out by the Japanese with great efficiency in the early 1990's. Japs do good work in Nica overall but they did good work on these guys too...The only species of freshwater shark in the World.


Actually they are bull sharks which are very common, Not in Lake Nicaragua anymore, but the species isnt particularly endangered.


...(partially) wrong answer...

Costa Rica (or more specifically, Taiwan) has NOTHING to do with shark finning on the Rio San Juan. Sigh. More "balanced" reporting from Tim Rogers!

The sedimentation of the Rio San Juan, due in part to the deforestation, most prevalent on the CR side of the RSJ, has contributed greatly to the declining numbers of sharks there...


Daniel Ortega: "respected" for WHAT?????

shark finning

Maybe I wasn't clear in the earlier post. the article didn't say Costa Rica or anyone else was finning sharks on the rio san juan, which would be illegal. It said that sedimentation along the last stretch of the rio san juan (delta to greytown) forced the sharks to enter and exit the san juan through the rio colorado, where they were being fished on the costa rican side of the border. So nicaragua's shark population in the lake and the river has been affected by the shark industry in costa rica.

check out.

Lake Nicaragua sharks

Please also note that bull sharks have been found up the Mississippi River as far as St. Louis. Is anyone in St. Louis terrified of shark attacks? Sorry, but this is a silly concern that only adds to bad Nicaragua images. Again, there have been only two recorded shark deaths in Nicaragua since 1890!!!

Not a Shark

An article posted today in El Nuevo Diario of a Yellow bearded Snake bite that left a boy with an amputated arm.

yet so far no shark bites with all the people at the beach during semana santa.

shark book.

SAVAGE SHORE: Life and Death with Nicaragua's Last Shark Hunters Edward Marriott Metropolitan Books Travel ISBN: 080505555X

"The Atlantic coast and, sixty miles to the south, the mouth of the San Juan River marked the beginning of all these journeys: here, in these unquiet, shifting waters, bred the bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas, the most willful and aggressive of all tropical sharks. Like no other shark, it possessed the ability to cross from salt water to freshwater, hunting far upriver to the lake beyond, cruising the coast, the bar mouth, and the San Juan's brackish lower stretches. The coastal and the river people hunted the shark for its fins and for its oil, feared it and revered it; every village had had family taken in its jaws. It was shark where shark should not be --- in fresh water, on human territory."

Edward Marriott attempts to plumb the minds of bull shark hunters, hoping also to experience the hardship and danger of a shark hunt in the freshwater of Nicaragua's jungle coast "with its mangrove swamps and alligators, hurricanes and stiff westers that washed up bales of high-grade cocaine, shrink-wrapped for export." The result is SAVAGE SHORE, an unusual travelogue and an eloquent indictment of relentless imperialism, conspicuous overconsumption, racial and economic prejudice, and even drug use, and their combined effect on the impoverished people of the small country of Nicaragua.

Although Marriott does brave the open waters to hunt sharks, it becomes increasingly obvious that he is in more danger from the human element. Marriott spends much of his time in Bluefields on the Atlantic coast and at the mouth of the San Juan River that leads to Lake Nicaragua. Bluefields can be likened to a rough mining town, and Marriott encounters "a bastard brew of Creole, Miskito, Sumu, Ramu, black Carib..." and discovers that each group distrusts the other and that all of them hate the Spanish, the Costa Ricans, the modern-day pirates, and the Colombians --- although the Colombian cocaine that washes ashore is gathered by one and all to use or to sell.

more sharks

Dont know if sharks are being slaughtered. only checked a few articles but if you are really interested just enter nicaragua sharks on google and you will find lots of info. Not trying to be melodramatic, just wanted to show that bull sharks do live in lake Nicaragua.

Is the Porch-Light On?

Miskito Alan &#174

I stayed in dim Marriottts Hotels with many different woman and I never saw no sharks in no swimming pool.

swimming pools

Just cant admit that there are bull sharks in lake Nic, huh? Never saw one in a pool either.


There less shark attack in Nicaragua Coastline is because drinking FDC is a natural shark repellent... ya'll think about it...

It's nice to be back... I love Nicaliving :)

If there is a Middle East then what happen to the rest of that country? ****Thinking****


I seem to remember a far east....especially around 1969 when I spent a little time there.

Shark attacks in Nicaragua

Very well put, John. And our agreeing on something is probably also a first step!

Accurate & Bull$hit

Miskito Alan &#174

Some Accurate

Some Bull$hit

Marriott spent too much time in bar-rooms.

Probably using too.


I found info in The encyclopedia Brittanica also, but you have to pay to get the full article. So here is a different source.

Freshwater Sharks and Rays Although most people think of sharks and rays as exclusively saltwater inhabitants, quite a few species actually make use of freshwater living spaces. In a 1995 paper, elasmobranch systematist Leonard Compagno and shark fisheries biologist Sid Cook surveyed the diversity and distribution of freshwater sharks and rays. Compagno and Cook reported that some 43 species of elasmobranch in 10 genera and four families penetrate freshwater environments in Australia, Southeast Asia, western Africa, eastern South America, Central America, and southeastern parts of North America. Coastal elasmobranchs, including some skates (family Rajidae), smooth dogfishes (Triakidae), pajama catsharks (Poroderma spp.), and Sandbar Sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) regularly enter estuaries to feed or give birth to young. More impressive yet are stingrays (Dasyatidae, Potamotrygonidae, and others), sawfishes (Pristidae), and the notorious Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas), all of which penetrate far up freshwater rivers - the Bull Shark has been recorded some 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometres) from the mouth of the Amazon River - and some even complete their life cycles in freshwater. Yet, in theory, it should be next to impossible for a 'saltier than seawater' elasmobranch to survive in fresh water. How do these freshwater sharks and rays manage this osmoregulatory feat?

Pioneer studies by ichthyologist Thomas Thorson on Bull Sharks of Lake Nicaragua have revealed much about this species' ability to osmoregulate in freshwater habitats. Thorson discovered that Bull Sharks - traditionally thought to be a distinct, land-locked species - readily traverse the rapid-laden Rio San Juan that connects Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean Sea. Thorson and his co-workers tested the blood and other body fluids of Bull Sharks caught in the river mouth on the Caribbean side and found that their internal concentration of solutes (sodium, chloride, urea and TMAO) are identical to those of Bull Sharks from full-strength seawater elsewhere. Bull Sharks caught in the Lake, however, had a total osmotic pressure about two-thirds that of marine values. Thorson and his co-workers found that the loss of osmotic pressure is due to a 20 percent reduction of bodily sodium and chloride (excreted via the rectal gland) and a more than 50 percent reduction of urea. Bull Sharks therefore adapt to freshwater by reducing the concentration gradients of solutes that favor the uptake of water and the loss of salts and urea to the environment.

Despite a reduced solute concentration in freshwater, Lake Nicaragua Bull Sharks still have body fluids more than twice as 'salty' as typical freshwater fishes. They must, therefore, experience a massive influx of water. This water influx is almost certainly dealt with by the kidneys, resulting in copious excretion of dilute urine. An early measurement of urine production by a freshwater sawfish indicated a daily flow rate of about a cup (250 millilitres) per kilogram of body mass -- more than 20 times that of a typical marine elasmobranch. Suck kidney activity must be energetically expensive. Yet tagging studies by Thorson and his co-workers has demonstrated that Bull Sharks can survive in Lake Nicaragua for prolonged periods, with records of four to six years for some individuals. Bull Sharks do not, however, appear to reproduce in Lake Nicaragua or other freshwater habitats. Instead, this species seems to return to brackish water for courtship, mating, and bearing young. Bull Shark pups may not be able to meet the high metabolic cost of osmoregulating in fresh water.

& Casper

Miskito Alan &#174

Those 2 attacks were in no lake either.


Yes, there are Bull sharks in lago Nicaragua. One of he only places in the world. They come up rio san juan and can live in fresh water....check the internet.

Good grief

We just returned from 11 days in Nicaragua and swam several days in Lake Nicaragua at Playa Santo Domingo on Ometepe Island and I am much more fearful of the sharks off Florida!! We had a great time and the water is bathtub warm...

Try San Ramon!!

Hey Dorothy. Next time You visit Ometepe,try visiting San Ramon at Don Rene's Lodge,It is only about 20 mins further from playa Santo Domingo, very lovely by the way.

I believe...

I believe they are referencing the sharks on the pacific coast, not the lake. Bull sharks are saltwater, but can tolerate brackish water to an extent. Bull sharks are very VERY aggressive, and they can export them to Syria for all I care. Lake sharks are much smaller than Bull sharks, and like a previous poster said, very rare.

Time travel..other voices

I wonder how many people here on this website actually swim in Lake Cocibolca? I do.

I think it would be interesting to actually ask today the hundereds/thousands of Nico families that live,work and watch thier children swim in the lake every day what they think about sharks in the lake.. ( other than as a source of food or income)

Time travel..

Lake Cocibolca has been inhabited by Nicaro and other indigenous people for untold is my understanding that in warfare they would drag an enemy behind thier canoe and let the sharks have way. I wonder how many people watched beloved family members eaten or maimed by sharks in Cocibolca..were are thier voices in this conversation?.. what would they think about it?

What would they think of our thoughts on the subject? (people that dont live and work on the lake everyday for generations as they do)

It would be an interesting imput to this subject


Yes, sharks are misunderstood - you couldn't possibly ever understnad what it's like to be a shark. And sharks don't get cancer, so THERE.

Well, earthworms don't get cancer either - use them for bait, catch the sharks, and kill them all before they eat you. Good riddance, Mr. Shark.

savage shore

Yes, the slaughtering of the bull sharks is tragic - if you are interested in reading a great account of their history, check out Savage Shores, I just finished reading it and it was excellent:

Click for Link

Sharks ..good ridance!

I would agree that the extinction of any species is tragic...with this said.

I have a great facination and love for lakeside living on Cocibolca and have several friends living on the lake. One of the great things about living on the lake is swimming in the lake. Just had an awesome swim with my friends on the full moon in the lake recently."a little wine, a little moonlight, a good swim" thats living!

The wind on the creates "waves" so its more like getting in the ocean than a lake.

Nicaragua has many, many, many miles of lake front white sand beach surronding Cocibolca that could be attractive to create tourist and retierment possibilities. Its awesome staring at the volcanos while lakeside and in the water.

The last thing I want a shark attack ruining the possibilities for swimming in the lake..not to mention the threat to human life.

I was told a swimmer was killed near San Jorge about 10 years ago when they got "hit" by an aligator/crocodial?

You can have all these creatures and keep them away from us!

I understand that they are much more dangerous down by the rio san juan tehn up by Rivas (so far) but if there populations increase that could change perhaps stoping all human enjoyment of watersports.

Its not that I am against wild life...I just dont want my family being eaten when we go for a swim. "sorry to the green crowd"

I draw the line with being eaten


As Frank Zappa just to say,

The world is full of stupidity, and YOU, I say, confirm that.


I think in all seriousness - nice quote. It really underlined how you feel about their comment. But, some would find it offensive (obviously they did). In terms of the comments about the sharks - I find them incredibly ignorant and purely what is wrong with the world today regarding wildlife and the environment. The world does NOT revolve around us (humans)- other life deserves chances as well. Sharks attacks are extremely rare - but they do happen. But you really have to go back and look at the history and about the sharks themselves before you make such a comment. There is always the chance of a face off with danger when you involve yourself in nature. I will not get into everything - but the main thing I want to say is you should research and explore before you make such an ego rich statement. And don't worry - the chance of you getting bit by a shark now is a million to one - humans have already had their way with so many already.

Names and Labels

You know is possible to disagree with someone without using degrading is possible to explain your viewpoint and why you wish to challange anothers viewpoint useing reason and debate. I am sorry to say that to often lately on this site I have noticed people "getting ugly" with others.

Regarding sharks in Lake Nicaragua...these Bull sharks live in the Atlantic and then travel up the fresh water Rio San Juan to get into Lake Nicaragua. What persentage of the atlantic Bull shark population ever lived in Lake Nicaragua 1% ? .005%?

If you can present your side of the argument or discuss your opinions without relating to blanket "get ugly" statements you may evolve.

Have you ever been wrong about anything in your life? I have been wrong about many things in life and not afraid to say to so..and I allow people to express thier opinions without getting ugly.

Unfortunately we live in a socitey ie "Political Correctness" were people are increasingly "negatively Labeled" for have opinions that are contrary to "orthodox" Political correctness,Environmentalism,multi cultualism,militant feminisim,more

In other words no one is allowed to have there own opinion if it differs from what they teach on a college campus and is branded if they express any other view.

re: Names and Labels

Mark, I concur with everything you thing is just to ignore the childish comments and consider the source. It's really to bad there isn't an "ignore" feature on this board like AOL has. Out of sight out of mind.

My philosophy on sharks (after watching Jaws, Open Water and other choice movies, who did an injustice to these beasts) is to stay the hell out of the water and swim in a pool...a nice large infinity pool...which overlooks the ocean. LOL

I feel it's the sharks territory and to be honest..if I was a shark, I wouldn't want people coming into my space disrupting the environment. Let's face it...sharks were here first (at least I think they were...)

I admire people who can take the plunge but it's just not my thing....I hate not knowing what is circling beneath my feet. I also don't like the feel of sticky salt water not to mention the immense amount of sand all over me...YUCK.....

However, with that said..I do want to thank the photographers of this board for taking the pictures that they have underneath the water. It's the only way this wuss is going to be able to see what's in the aquatic world.

Now a question about Bull Sharks.

I was told there were bull sharks (not land sharks) swimming around the coastline of Santana and Iguana and some of the other ocean front developments. Just curious for those in the know, how much of a problem they are for the surfers and anyone else who dares to go into the water?


In a way we are all a consultative body and we all have at heart the well being of the Nicas. Truth will be found through the clash of differing opinions, all voices must be heard and respected. If "ugliness" is allowed certain people may feel intimidated and not speak up with their gems to share. Thanks for your balancing contribution.

Shark attacks in Nicaragua

I will repeat what I posted on this subject several months ago:

There are only three confirmed unprovoked shark attacks (none fatal) on humans in Nicaragua SINCE 1890!!!!!

Granted there may be more unreported or unconfirmed, but you are way more likely to be attacked in Florida, Hawaii, Australia or other popular spots than in Lake Nicaragua. (Those of us more environmentally inclined would point out that we should be more worried about the shark species being totally fished out! And I also have loved swimming in the Lake.)

Regardless, I'd suggest Nicaragua has enough bad PR going against it that we don't need to further spread a lot of exaggerations or fish stories even if they sound good at Halloween.

just when you thought it was safe to go into the water

Casper thanks for the link....and the information.

I think the U.S is more responsible for the bad P.R on sharks then anywhere else.

You have Peter Benchley to thank for all this...LOL

Hear! - Hear!

Miskito Alan &#174

Casper - Very well said.

This shark thing is so exaggerated and the talk is just certainly bad publicity for Nicaragua.

The stories about "drug-running" and crime on the Atlantic Coast have also been exaggerated by people who have never been here and simply don't know what they are saying. Just more untrue and needless bad publicity.

But its true

Bull sharks do survive in lake Nicaragua. Why is this an issue about the U.S.? Bull sharks are very hearty and can survive in fresh water. Not a political question.