Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Lençóis Maranhenses (Brazil): a ‘desert' with lagoons

Lençóis Maranhenses (Brazil): a ‘desert' with lagoons

It seems incredible, but in a country that keeps around 30% of the fresh water and shelters the largest rain forest in the world, we can find a “desert”. Located in the State of Maranhão, on the north shore of Brazil, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is an area of about 300 square kilometers (155,000 ha) of blinding white dunes and deep blue lagoons, forming one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. The dunes invade the continent over 50km (31 miles) from the cost, creating a landscape that reminds a white bed sheet, when seen from above.

But you may ask: -Lagoons?? You told me it was a desert… Yes, what defers this region from a desert is the amount of rain that drops over the dunes, creating ponds of crystal clear water on the depression between dunes. Despite its desert-like appearance, Lençóis Maranhenses records an annual rainfall of 1,600mm (i.e. 62.9 inches), 300 times more than in the Sahara. During the period of drought, the lagoons evaporate and become completely dried. After the rainy season, the lagoons are home of many species of fish, turtles and clams. The mystery in this story lies in the fact that when the lagoons fill up, life comes back, as if they had never left the place. One of the hypotheses to explain the phenomenon is that the eggs of the fish and crabs are maintained alive in the sand, exploding when rain comes back.

(Link | Photo)


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