BIOTHOPS  Los Patos Lagoon   Cumanà-Sucre-Venezuela

Maps that can help you in a better localization of Cumanà

Cumaná was the first city founded in the American continent. The area is desertic and the climate hot and dry. It is on  the north-eastern Venezuelan coast and surrounded by mountains that intercept the precipitations. Cumaná gets about 25 cm3 of rain in a normal year.The tropical rainforests that sit on the mountains receive the biggest part of the rainfall.

Venezuelan coast, near the Laguna de los Patos. Photo by Andrea Bernd

The lagoon is separated from the ocean by a sand bank, and because of the continuous influx of fresh water, the brackish water gradually turned into fresh. On the ocean side of the lagoon there is also a channel crossing the beach side road and dying a couple hundred meters from the ocean

Laguna de los Patos is not a single body of water, but rather several shallow mangrove estuaries that interconnect when the water level rises during the rainy season , and this may be the reason that the Endler's and several other fish species have been able to survive there. The depth varies between some centimetres and  3 or 4 meters. Part of the Laguna appears to have undergone some sort of restoration or replanting effort. Unfortunately, the lagoon has urban garbage dump in the proximity and also sewage drain that flow into the lagoon.

  The water of the laguna itself range from a peas green color to a silty red-grey. It is quite stagnant in some areas, where a mucousy white film covered the surface. The bottom of the lagoon is mucky and rich in leaf detritus.
The familiar smell of rotting sea side vegitation is everywhere.

Concerning the dark colour of the water ,you can read this extract from a Pr.Endler’mail :

  “…They were found in warm (27-30 degrees °C) bright green and hard water in a small lake.  The bright metallic green is about the only thing that a prospective mate can see in this very (unicellular) algae-rich water.  Interestingly enough, a single population of guppies that I found in southern Trinidad living in a similar habitat was just starting to evolve the metallic green coloration, but it was nothing compared to this species…”

  Laguna de los Patos, is a fresh to brackish water (as said before) estuary largely surrounded by Black Mangroves. On these Mangroves there were small rookeries of Scarlet Ibis, Egrets, Herons and Pelicans. The area surrounding the lagoon is quite arid; red soils dominating the cliff side of the laguna and calcareous sand on the ocean side. In this lagoon ,as know, you can find Poecilia sp.Endler but Pou also found some Limia sp. and Poecilia sphenops.

Mangroves like this live in the Laguna de los Patos. Photo by Andrea Bernd

White alkaline sand at the coast near the Laguna de los Patos. Photo by Andrea Bernd

Notes from a trip to Laguna de los Patos :

Here there are some lines from Dr.Slaboch who went to Venezuela in winter 2003:

I visited Laguna de Patos  in winter 2003.  Lagoon is 1 km from Puerto LaCruz, direction to Playa Colorada (GPS N 10.23462; W 64.62082). Aqua was high contaminated by communal trash.

In the day-time, the water temperature was 34°C, at night 29 °C, pH 7.9. The air temperature in the day-time 46 °C and the humidity 98 %. I am sorry to say that I didn’t measure the water´s values I no-measured ,but I presume that it has high conductivity...

In lagoon be merely Endler´s guppy, but little. I caught only 15 specimens.

You can find more informations and photos (unfortunately only in Czech) here:

This shots of the lagoon were taken by Dr.Roman Slaboch during his trip in Venezuela. Photos by Roman Slaboch

Informations about this biothops has been mostly taken from Pr.John Endler and Armando Pou notes after their collecting trips and from the website

Thanks to Manuel Zapater for the translation of the German page about this topic.