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Designed like: Ecological Treasure  by Ecoportal Venezuela

ECOLOGICAL TREASURE 

 

 Los Roques Archipelago is without any doubt one of the most beautiful natural areas of Venezuela. Anchored to the north of the port of "La Guaira" (the nearest to Caracas), it shows us an unprecedented scenic harmony, because in this insular formation, the sky and the sea converge in a without end of harmonious tones of blue and greens that evoke a vision of what should have been for the settlers to arrive at these islands for the first time

The species in their habitat, and the man's little intervention in this beautiful and unequaled place, make of these islands and keys, the most beautiful coralline reef in the Caribbean Sea

The submarine landscape also offers continuous action to the diver, and diverse and multicolored speedy fishes can be seen when they cross among the pointed corals and among the undulant masses of marine algae.

Fortunately this ecosystem has not been invaded by the man, first for its isolation, and then for the ordinance of National Park settled down in date of August 8 1972 with the intention of: "to establish an appropriate zone of compatible uses with the nature and vulnerability of the ecosystems that it contains", what has guaranteed a judicious use of their natural resources inside a normative of protection of their enviroment.

This nature paradise of peace, anchored in the Caribbean, it is without a doubt memory of Corsairs that hid their crafts among the multiple islands, little islands and keys, and definitively to know it they are not enough just few days because their 50 islands, and more than 200 keys, offer a without end of possibilities to the tourist that wants to enjoy the nature. 

The National Park 

The Los Roques Archipelago National Park was created by presidential decree on the 8th of August, 1972. Since the middie of this century, the bounteousness of the waters of Los Roques had propitiated a growing fishing industry, especially in lobsters and the queen conch. This, together with the unorganized presence of visitors who carne in their own boats, have generated damages to the natural and scenic resources. As a consequence and seeking to safeguard national interests, the Government designated the entire archipelago a national park.

In 1978, a National Parks Institute (INPARQUES) was cre­ated and undertook the administration, protection and management of the Archipelago along with other exist-ing national parks. In 1990, the Autoridad Única de Área was created to coordinate under a solé directorship, the participation and efforts of the diverse bodies with responsibility for the Park. AIso in 1990, the Plan for the Ordering and Regulation of the Use of Los Roques, which defines the activities permitted, was approved. The main restricted áreas are those with large mangrove forests, reefs and stretches of sea grass beds which serve as áreas of refuge, sustenance, breeding and spawning for many marine species and for birds, which are sensitive to the presence of human beings (see map).

General Information

•Surface Área: 221.120 hectares.

•Location: In the Caribbean Sea, to the open north of Venezuela's central coast and at a distance of approximately 166km (84 nautical miles) from the port of La Guaira. Access Charterflights leave regular-ly for El Gran Roque from Maiquetía and the island of Margarita. By sea, one can arrive at the various keys by prívate or rented boats.

•Activities: In accordance with Zones, the activities permit-ted are as follows:

•Zone of Managed Natural Environment: To effect trips by boat, navi-gate sail or motor boats through indicated routes, to practice game fishing and to watch or photograph nature.

•Primitive Marine Zone: Besides the aforementioned activities, swim-ming, snorkeling, diving and excursions through marked paths are permitted, as well as the observation of nature in groups no larger than 15 persons.

•Recreation and Services Zone: In addition to the aforementioned activities, camping, nautical sports such as sailing, skiing etc. are aiso permitted.

Because of its fragility, access is not permitted tothe Integral Protection Zone, except to carry out research activities duly authorized by the Superintendent of the National Park.

•Services and Facilities: The airstrip is on El Gran Roque and in its vicinity there is a Visitar Attention Center where one can request information and permits; the Superintendent of INPARQUES, the

office of the Authority for the Área, a National Guard outpost, a Coast Guard station, the Fisheries Inspectorate and the Pólice Station; some grocers; an assistance booth and publictelephones. AIso, some centers for the teaching of underwater exploration and for the rent-ing of equipment. There are modest inns and others with more facili-ties, run by tour operators that offer various packages with accom-modation and trips from Venezuela's major cities. Additionally, certain sailing boats and other tour vesseis offer, among others, overnight services; some can be contacted in El Gran Roque. The park has des-ignated camping áreas, but visitors have to bring their own tent and camping equipment. Groups leave for the keys at specific hours.

•Taxes and Permits. The Authority charges local and foreign visitors an entrance fee. The following activities require permits which are issued by INPARQUES in the Visitor Attention Center: camping anchoring and visiting the Primitive Marine Zone, scuba diving anc game fishing.

Los Roques, past and present

Findings on almost twenty one islands support the con­clusión that, before the coming of the Spanish Conquerors, there were no permanent populations on the island but rather encampments of indians who carne from the continent to catch fish, queen conch and turtie. Significant findings of indian craft have been made in Dos Mosquises, Cayo Sal, and Crasquí; some of which, it has been determined, are related to occupations originating from the northern parí of central Venezuela (the years 1430 and 1480), and to a prior occupation (1330) by groups from the islands of Aruba and Bonaire.

After the arrival of the Spaniards, diverse maps designate the archipelago with ñames like Roca and Roques. Once the peari findings on the island of Margarita, Coche and Cubaga were exhausted, the seekers settied on Los Roques, with littie success. Aside from the exploitation of salí marshes, the Spaniards found no reason to maintain strong links with an archipelago which moreover was a refuge for pirales. At the beginning of the XIX century, the inhabitants of the Netherlands Antilles exploited the lime from the coral, and as well, extracted phosphates and guano from the mangroves for fertilizers; from the wood of the red mangrove they obtained vegetable car­bón for use as fuel; and from the bark, the tannin to cure skins. A great number of the singular ñames of the islands had their origins in this mixture of Spanish, Dutch and English influences.

From 1910 onwards, the Dutch areslowlydislodged from Los Roques and replaced by Margaritan fishermen. From 1950 onwards, its producción is commercialized through-out Venezuela which leads to the integration of the archi­pelago into the economic life of the country. The present population of Los Roques is concentrated for the most parí in El Gran Roque and is composed of 25% of native Margaritans.

The archipelago of today seeks to reconcile its economic

Recommendations for Protection of the Park and for Personal Security

•If there are any doubts about Zones which conditions or restricts the realization of activities and access to some keys, inquire at the Visitor Attention Center. Thus, penalization due to unawareness will be avoided.

•Ensure that all garbage is placed in containers, garbage cans etc. Your purposeful contribution will help to preserve the quality of the land-scape and moreover, will contribute to alleviating the difficult task of littercollection.

•Since ¡t is important to protect the variety and abundance of bird species, do not visit islands where birds are nesting or hatching and do not encourage pilots to fiy low over these islands.

•Do not anchor boats and walk over low coral reefs, skin-dive or snorkel carelessiy or extract pieces of coral as souvenirs, since frac­tures produced within the reef, lead to bacterial infection and subse-quent death of the reef.

•Abstain from buying lobster from fishermen in the off season (May to October of each year). On the other hand, the sale and consumption of the queen conch and turtie are completely prohibited.

•Use the already existing paths to walk on the keys, and do not light fires. This way the destruction of vegetation is avoided.

•Do not feed any of the aquatic or terrestrial fauna, since this créales dependency on a source of food foreign to its environment, with the consequent change in its natural behavior.

  Marine Ecosystems 

The rich variety of the species in the archipelago is impressive. Its coral reefs hold great valué with regard to its bio-logical, ecological, physiographic and scenic elements;

the marine fauna and other forms of oceanic lite they hold constitute the richest and most important natural resource, infinitely more than the spedes found on land. The coral reefs are exceptionally varied environments in habitáis where fluctuations in temperature, small áreas of rough and calm waters, bright and shady áreas with an abundance of nutrients are generated. Some species of fish, such as ocean surgeonfish, angelfish, the spotfin butterfiyfish have adapted specially to lite on the coral reef; the flashy cleaner fish deán other fish; the parrotfish scrape polyps off the calcareous surface of the coráis with their mandibles. In the áreas surrounding the reef there are barracadas, nurse sharks, various species of rays and manta rays; enormous screens of plankton. The snappers, yellowtail snappers and groupers are of great commercial valué and of even greater valué is the spiny lobster, since more than 90% of national production comes from Los Roques.

Another underwater ecosystem is composed of sea grass beds: unlike algae, they are flowering plañís _which, like terrestrial plañís, reproduce themselves by

means of their fruits. They are found in bright shallow waters, in depths which range from 0.5 to 6 meters. They form dark zones in lagoons of low depth behind coralline barriers; or are located in mangrove swamps, where they make up the ideal substratum to keep these plañís firm. The most common species are the tuitle grass, the favorite food of green turties, parrotfish and surgeonfish; and the manatee grass, the leaves of which resemble spaghetti. Hundreds of fish find the sea grass beds to be the perfect labyrinth, filled with nutrients, to spawn, live out their young lite and hide from their enemies. It aiso serves as a refuge for cushion sea stairs and sea cucum-bers, sea worms and mollusks like the much sought queen conch, one of the best snails of the Caribbean, with a pinkish shell and much appreciated meat. The queen conch has been commercialized on a large scale as a typical dish of some Caribbean islands. Moreover, it has had aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it and its shells have been widely used in religious ceremonies, as domes-tic utensiis and as souvenirs. Henee, like turties, its capture, has been prohibited as its populations have been affected.  

  FAUNA 

The fauna in the archipelago is characterized by the marked contrast between the poor variety of species and terrestrial populations, and by the beauty and variety of bird life and marine fauna. In the hostile environment generated by the climate of the islands, the scarcity of food and the proliferation of predators, one can find REPTILES such as the ¡guana which adapted itself to life on the exposed crests.; the black lizard (Cnemidophorus lem-niscatus) that learned to eat tuna guasábara flowers, the fruits of the melón cactus, and booby bird eggs to survive;

Of the 92 species of BIRDS which have been recorded in the archipelago, 50 migrate from North América during the boreal winter, because of its location, the park is ideal as a resting and feeding ground. The shore birds usually group themselves together, suddenly disband and then regroup themselves; later they seek a resting place on the beaches or a nocturnal refuge on the branches of the mangrove trees. The booby birds are easily visible: the brown booby and the red-footed booby; the pelicans and the laughing gulls with their strident squawk; the magnif-icent widewinged scissored-tailed frigatebird, the brown noddy, that nests in the branches of the mangrove trees;

the common tern and the least tern which nest on the white sand cióse to the beach; southern lapwing and plovers, that can be seen on the beaches at dusk. Among the herons one can find the great blue heron and the white-necked heron, which capture fishes and crus-taceans on the shores of the lagoons. From the island of Bonaire or the Los Olivitos Swamp (Zulia State), a large colony of flamingos stop on Los Canquises Keys, the one key still to be found in Los Roques. The terrestrial birds are much rarer and less visible. They are a migratory species from North América or from Venezuela's continental

In the Park National Archipelago Los Roques 92 species of birds have been reported contained in 30 families, 52 percent of which are migratory of North America. The most common are the sea earwig, fools, flamingos, alcaravanes, guanaguanares and tirras. 

- Until the moment they have been reported in The Asleep 57 species of corals. 

- They have also been counted some 280 species of fish. 

- The lobster that wastes away in Los Roques is of the gender panulirus argus, one of the three species that are in the western Atlantic. It is a crustacean decadópodo caminador, although she/he can swim back by means of strong movements of the line, it possesses long antennas and it is covered for a very hard shell, with thorny protuberances. 

 FLORA  

Few plant species, no more than 30, can adapt to the extreme conditions of the archipelago, In the elevations of •El Gran Roque cactus-like and thorny vegetation predom­ínate, typical of dry and hot tropical zones: tuna and tuna guasábara {Opuntia wendetia) whose yellow flowers col-orfully highiight the landscape; barrel cacti such as the buche or me/on (Lemaireocereus griseus) and the cande-labrum cactus. In the fíat sandy parts on the island, low growing vegetation can be found, made up mainly of sait wort, whose hallucinogenic effects must have been known to the pre-columbian Indians; sea pursiane, a creeping plant with thick leaves that store water, covers ampie áreas of the beach; the goats foot morning glory, a creeping plant with beautiful flowers; and the sandbur, whose small seeds covered with thorns are firmiy set in the soil thus contributing to stabilizing the sand.

Mangroves develop very well in low spots near the coast and where the tide comes in from time to time. In Los Roques, one can find: the red mangrove plant, the species that grows furthest out to sea; nearer land it is fol-lowed by the black mangrove plant; in sandy and consoli-dated places, the white mangrove, and further inland, the button-wood mangrove. The mangroves are essential sta­bilizing elements to the coasts;

they build up the ground and provide energy through their leaves. Additionally, due to the natural protection offered by their roots and to the abun-dance of nutrients found therein, they perform a singu­lar ecological function as enclaves for reproduction, refuge and sustenance of numerous   terrestrial   and aquatic species of animáis.


Los Roques Archipelago, located 70 miles North of Caracas, and one-hour flight from Margarita, is one of the biggest National Sea Parks in the Caribbean. It is conformed by 50 island and keys in a ring around a central lagoon with abundant mangroves and coral reefs. Amazing beaches, white sands, colored waters and a great variety of sea fauna. The area is protected and no new constructions are allowed. All accommodations for tourist are former fishermen houses refurbished and converted in nice and comfortable "Posadas" frequently attended by the owners in a familiar and personalized way


When finishing the day the tourist it will be very aware of the importance that contains the preservation of the natural spaces and our work will be rewarded when having created ecological conscience in a group of people that, surely, of there from now on will change its form to think and they will create in their our minds philosophy like a new form of life.

The species in their habitat, and the man's little intervention in this beautiful and unequaled place, make of these islands and keys, the most beautiful coralline reef in the Caribbean Sea 

The submarine landscape also offers continuous action to the diver, and diverse and multicolored speedy fishes can be seen when they cross among the pointed corals and among the undulant masses of marine algae. 

Fortunately this ecosystem has not been invaded by the man, first for its isolation, and then for the ordinance of National Park settled down in date of August 8 1972 with the intention of: "to establish an appropriate zone of compatible uses with the nature and vulnerability of the ecosystems that it contains",
what has guaranteed a judicious use of their natural resources inside a normative of protection of their enviroment. 

This nature paradise of peace, anchored in the Caribbean, it is without a doubt memory of Corsairs that hid their crafts among the multiple islands, little islands and keys, and definitively to
know it they are not enough just few days because their 50 islands, and more than 200 keys, offer a without end of possibilities to the tourist that wants to enjoy the nature. 

 


 


History  -  Geography  -  Services  Posadas  -  Rules&Norms   

Conservation  -  Management  -  Biodiversity  -  Human-Activity  -  Theats  -  Summary  

Scuba  -  Sailship  -  Fishing  - Gastronomic  -   Los Roques-Map  -  What to Do


Special  Report - Vuelta en Kayac al Archipielago Los Roques


 

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