Duckweed signals Lake Maracaibo troubles


No, it would not be accurate to title this article “The Plant That Ate Lake Maracaibo.” But for a while last month, the extraordinary spread of a freshwater plant in Latin America’s largest lake had Venezuelan officials envisioning dire scenarios, indeed. Duckweed (Lemna obscura), known here as green lentil and usually found in wetlands at the southern end of the lake, suddenly began proliferating throughout the massive water body in March. The plant, which can double its mass every 48 hours, spread far, wide—and fast. By the end of April it was choking the shoreline around the city of Maracaibo, preventing traditional, small-scale fishermen from launching their boats. By June, it covered between 15% and 30% of the lake’s 5,400-square-mile (14,000... [Log in to read more]

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