Day 8 |
Oct 16, 2011

Los Roques Archipelago National Park, Venezuela

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 11º56’09”, W 066º39’47”
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: 28ºC
Sea Temperature: 27ºC

I was quite impressed with Los Roques Archipelago National Park today. I had never been here before and I was mesmerized by its natural beauty! The Los Roques islands are a federal dependency of Venezuela. Today, there are an estimated 1,209 permanent residents that produce 90% of the lobster for consumption in Venezuela.

Shortly after 9 am, when we finally got clearance from the local authorities, we started taking our guests ashore. The beach we used in the Madrisqui cay was really beautiful. White sand, turquoise water, mangroves, lots of birds and clear skies … a truly spectacular seascape.

The Los Roques Archipelago National Park was created in 1972 to protect the pristine coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful natural areas of Venezuela. It covers 221,120 hectares (546,000 acres), and consists of 300 small islands, cays and sand banks, countless coral reefs and shallow lagoon areas surrounded with mangroves and coral formations - making it the largest marine park in the Caribbean Sea.

Throughout the morning we offered our guests beach combing / birding walks with the expedition staff and a snorkeling excursion to a nearby reef. The snorkelers walked for 5 minutes and got to a beach from where we started the snorkeling experience. The conditions were good and the reef was very colourful and busy with lots of different species of coral and fish. We went in two small groups, which made the experience more enjoyable.

In 1996, Los Roques was declared a Ramsar Site because of its importance as a reservoir of biodiversity and food resources. This national park protects one of the highest-quality coral reefs in all the Caribbean, with respect to species diversity, area of live coral, and low incidence of diseases.

The waters in the park contain 61 species of corals, 200 species of crustaceans, 140 species of mollusks, 45 species of echinoderms. 60 species of sponges and 280 species of fish. In addition, 92 bird species, 50 of which are migratory, can be seen in the park. Four globally endangered sea turtle species nest regularly on the islands.

For lunch our guests went to a local venue and had the “catch of the day”. From what I heard lunch was very nice, particularly the fresh fish. In the afternoon we offered a guided tour of the Gran Roque town and a hike up to a lighthouse. The small town is quaint, with sandy streets and friendly locals. The views of the archipelago from the lighthouse were magnificent.
Throughout the afternoon we ran Zodiac shuttles in all directions so we could cater for those that were more interested in spending time on the beach, and those wanting to spend the afternoon in town.

By 4:30 we had everybody on board and shortly afterwards we got together once again in The Theatre for a Recap & Briefing, followed by the Venetian Society Cocktail Party and Dinner.

At the end of our recap, Captain Alexander Golubyev came on stage and introduced our new Captain Adam Boczek. Captain Golubyev is going on holiday tomorrow and Captain Boczek is assuming as the new ship’s Captain. From now on the two of them will be sharing duties as Masters of the Silver Explorer. Welcome aboard Captain Boczek.