Dive Laguna de Apoyo


Estacion Biologica Laguna de Apoyo

SCUBA Diving Research Program in Laguna de Apoyo


You can help us study and monitor the endangered fishes of Laguna de Apoyo and their habitat by SCUBA diving with us. At Gaia, we have organized studies of the fishes of Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua, over the past fifteen years. Certified scuba divers can participate in our monitoring program and aid us in gathering important information about these fishes and their habitat. The dives are technical but not particularly demanding, and divers get to learn about the endemic fishes up close. Gaia is dedicated to supporting scientific research which provides useful information for use by conservation authorities, the government, and the public, in addition to the scientific community. Our work, some of which is described below, is focused on discovering new species, determining native ranges and habitats of species, and evaluating the threats to native species posed by human activity.

Dive Laguna de Apoyo

Divers on their way to study the fishes in Laguna de Apoyo. Photo by Kim Bracken.

You can accompany our SCUBA divers in a data-gathering excursion. You will learn about the endemic fish species of Laguna de Apoyo, their names and habits, and you will see several of these fish species underwater while on your dive. In season, you will see them nesting and defending their fry. The dives on which you will accompany us are usually shore-entry and require the technical skills corresponding to open water certification. The dive plans do not require special decompression stops. We have a Bauer compressor which provides the cleanest air of any compressor in Nicaragua.

Laguna de Apoyo is a volcanic crater lake, isolated from other water bodies, and is a great laboratory for the study of evolution. The lake contains up to a dozen species of fish only found in the lake. Our Gaia scientists and technicians are working on the discovery and conservation of these species, and to date, we have officially discovered five fish species endemic to Lake Apoyo. By diving with us, you can participate in our research program, learn about evolution and see some recently discovered species, and you may very well see some which have not yet been discovered. Our opportunities to see many rare and endemic species are unique.

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Arrow cichlids defending their fry, near Estación Biológica. Photo by Garey Knop.

Every time you dive Laguna de Apoyo with us, you help protect the endangered fish species of our beautiful lake. Gaia maintains an active, vigorous research program, which has resulted in more than a dozen scientific publications in the most prestigious journals in the scientific community. We have worked in alliances with ichthyological and fisheries scientists throughout the world, including the following: Jay R. Stauffer, Jr. (The Pennsylvania State University, USA); Topi Lehtonen (Monash University, Australia); Axel Meyer (Konstanz University, Germany), Uli Schliewen (Ludwig Maximillian University, Germany); Isabel Jimenez (Universidad de Boca del Rio, Mexico); Brian Murphy (Virginia Tech); Marten Hogencamp (Wageningen University, Netherlands); Gabrielle Canonico (University of Maryland, USA); Ronald G. Oldfield (Case Western University, USA); Salvador Montenegro (CIRA, Nicaragua).

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A SCUBA diver takes notes while watching the fish below. Photo Garey Knop.

The fish species found in Laguna de Apoyo are:

Amphilophus astorquii

Amphilophus chancho

Amphilophus flaveolus

Amphilophus globosus

Amphilophus supercilius

Amphilophus zaliosus

Parachromis managuensis

Atherinella sardina

Poecilia sphenops

Gobiomorus dormitor

Oreochromis niloticus

By participating in our dive research program, you can observe endangered, newly discovered fish species in their natural habitat, help us to collect data about them and their habitat, and help to finance our work in the most important conservation issue in Nicaragua today-discovering and protecting the endangered wildlife of Nicaragua. The experience of diving in a freshwater, volcanic crater lake differs from the ocean, and is worth the experience. Please contact us for more details about how you can participate with us. Dive Nicaragua! Dive Laguna de Apoyo!

We are eager to discuss our program with scientists, science students, and potential longer-term volunteers who want to work on the fascinating freshwater fishes of Nicaragua with us. If you are any of those, please contact us!

We occasionally offer PADI Open Water Diver Certification and other certifications. Please inquire regarding our next Open Water Diver Certification course.

Blog Entries on SCUBA Diving

The arrow cichlid, Amphilophus zaliosus

Dive Nicaragua!

Dive Laguna de Apoyo!

Amphilophus Species Discoveries in EL NUEVO DIARIO

The Little Apoyo Cichlid, Amphilophus astorquii

Video-Endemic Fish Species in Laguna de Apoyo

Amphilophus astorquii in a Multispecies School

Nesting Amphilophus globosus Photographed

Related Pages

Laguna de Apoyo

In Defense of Nature

email us

Lake Apoyo Biological Research Station "Estación Biológica"

GAIA Homepage

Dive Laguna de Apoyo

The arrow cichlid, Amphilophus zaliosus, discovered in 1976. This species is one of six only found in this lake. Photo by Topi Lehtonen.


Dive Laguna de Apoyo

The environment of Laguna de Apoyo is natural and nearly unspoiled.


Dive Laguna de Apoyo

A scientist captures fishes in Laguna de Apoyo. Photo by Topi Lehtonen.

Dive Laguna de Apoyo

The mojarra chancho, Amphilophus chancho, guards fry at nest in Laguna de Apoyo. This is one of the eight species of fish in Nicaragua first discovered by our team at Estación Biológica. Photo Ad Konings.


SCUBA Laguna de Apoyo

Amphilophus chancho, a recently discovered fish species endemic to Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Ad Konings.

Dive Laguna de Apoyo

The natural beauty of Laguna de Apoyo is unsurpassed in Central America. The warm, transparent water makes for excellent diving.