History of Lago Enriquillo

Lake Enriquillo is one of only a few saltwater lakes in the world inhabited by crocodiles. Lake Enriquillo is located in a rift valley formed by the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault that extends 79 miles (127 km) from Port-au-Prince Bay in Haiti in the west, to near Neiba Bay in the Dominican Republic in the east. This fault was responsible for the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake. The lake is named after Enriquillo, a Taino cacique who rebelled against the Spaniards in the early 16th century, and hid in the mountains North of the lake.

The rift valley, a former marine strait, was created around 1 million years ago when the water level fell and the strait was filled in by sediments of the Yaque del Sur River. The lake is 9 to 12 miles (15 to 20 km) wide. Known as the Cul-de-Sac Depression in Haiti and the Hoya de Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic, parts of the rift valley are below sea level and are covered by large salt lakes.

Lake Enriquillo covers an area of 145 square miles (375 km2), and is the lowest point in the Caribbean, falling 148 feet (45 m) below sea level. Its drainage basin includes 10 minor river systems. The rivers that rise in the Neiba Mountains to the north (lower center and lower right of the image) are perennial. Those rivers that rise in the Baoruco Mountains to the south (upper center and upper left of the image) are intermittent.

Lake Enriquillo has no outlet. The lake's water level varies because of a combination of storm-driven precipitation events and the region's high evaporation rate. Salinity in the lake can vary between 33 ppt to over 100 ppt. Tremors in the region are common. Just above the right center of the image, the other large salt lake in the rift valley, Etang Saum√Ętre located in the country of Haiti, is visible.

The lake contains one island: Isla Cabritos; famous for its crocodiles and flamingos. When water levels drop as a result of dry spells, the islands are usually linked to