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Lake Maracaibo Venezuela
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Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela

July 9, 2004
Strands of duckweed curl in lazy arcs through northwestern Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo, shown here in this true-color Aqua MODIS image from June 26, 2004. Duckweed, which is a tiny aquatic plant that grows in freshwater around the world, floats at the surface or slightly submerged in the lake's brackish water. The lake itself lies in the Maracaibo basin, which is semi-arid in the north, but averages over two feet of annual rainfall in the south. Accordingly, the climate is extremely hot and humid, as well as prone to disease. The rollover image, which was acquired by the Aqua MODIS satellite on December 17, 2003, shows Lake Maracaibo during the winter months, when duckweed is absent from the lake's waters, and the silvery sunglint is absent. Maracaibo is the largest natural lake in South America at 5,150 square miles. At its widest point, it's over 75 miles wide.