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Tonle Sap

Tonlé Sap is a 'Great River of Freshwater' or 'Great Lakes' is a blend of lake and river systems in the Tonle Sap and Mekong areas of Cambodia as Southeast Asia's largest fresh water lake and an important point of biodiversity. The 2,500 square kilometer lake at the end of the dry season will expand to 16,000 square kilometers at the peak of rainfall.

Tonle Sap is a river where ecosystems and hydrologies adapt to rainy and dry seasons. The lake has two uniqueness as well as the flow changes direction twice each year and the lake size expands and shrinks dramatically to fit it.

Xvlor Tonle Sap is blend of river and lake systems for Mekong reservoir

Xvlor.com Tonle Sap is blend of river and lake systems for Mekong reservoir

The dry season from November to May makes the water flow into the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. But when high rainfall in the rainy season that began in June made the flow turn where the water from the Mekong River fills the Tonle Sap to inflate into an enormous lake.

At the end of the dry season in April it has 2,500 sq kilometers (965 sq mi), volume of 1 cu kilometer (0.24 cu mi), 160 kilometers (99 mi) long and depth of 1 meter. But the peak rainy season in September and early October has 16,000 sq kilometers (6.178 sq mi), volume of 80 cu kilometers (19 cu mi), length of 250 kilometers (160 miles) and depth of 9 meters.

Researchers say Tonle Sap is rapidly filled with soil sediments, but recent research on sedimentation suggests lake sedimentation is in the range of 0.1-0.16 mm/yr since the last 5,500 years. There is no sedimentary threat to the lake, even this process is an important part of the ecosystem nutrition.



The reversed Tonle Sap water flow also serves as a safety valve to prevent severe flooding downstream of the Mekong River during the rainy season, while in the dry season it provides 50 percent of the flow of water to the Mekong delta in Vietnam.

Fishery

This lake occupies the basin created by the geological pressure caused by the clash of Indian plate and Asian plate. Tonle Sap and surrounding provinces are part of the Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve which includes Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Pursat, Siem Reap, Otdar Meanchey and Krong Pailin.

The Tonle Sap River floodplain is essential for fish breeding. The water-pumping, biodiversity, annual sediment system that brings fertile soil from the Mekong River as the world's most productive land fishery that sustains more than 3 million people, provides 75 percent of the country's annual fish catch, and 60 percent of Cambodia's protein intake.

When Tonlé Sap floods into breeding grounds for fish and fishing during this period it is illegal to prevent disturbance to fish reproduction. At the end of the rainy season, when the water falls, fishing is allowed again and the fisherman puts up a floating chart along the river.

Tonlé Sap naturally carries thousands of fish where fishermen put conical nets into the water from floating houses and lift the nets as quickly as possible moments later. Using this technique produces up to 3 tons of fish each time and more than 10,000 tons of fish for less than a week.

Biodiversity

Tonlé Sap is home to at least 149 species of fish where 17 endangered species, large colonies of unique birds, reptile populations including endangered Siamese crocodiles, large numbers of freshwater snakes, and about 200 plant species.

The Mekong giant catfish is best known as one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. Fish has a length of 3 meters (10 feet) and weight of 230 kilograms (500 lb) and the largest ever caught weighing 306 kilograms (674 lb).

The population of these fish has continued to decline since the Khmer Rouge era led by Pol Pot and in 2005. It is currently illegal for fishermen to catch and store these rare fish except for research only.

Floating Village

The floating village located around Tonle Sap relies on lakes for natural resources in terms of fishing and wetlands. Daily life in these villages is different from other villages where more lives are passed on water.

Houses, schools, basketball courts and others float on water and move along the coastal line of the lake. They headed to the edge when the floods approached the shore, instead they would go to the middle when the lake receded. Here are some floating villages:

Chong Khneas

The floating village is the closest to Siem Reap and the place most visited by tourists. In the rainy season, it is really a floating village where houses, shops, schools, and others are swayed over the water. Tours usually stop at souvenir shops, culinary and visit the Gecko Environment Center.

Kampong Phluk

Actually not a floating village where in the dry season, high stage houses lined the streets. When the water level is high, the stage is submerged and the houses look 'floating'.

Kampong Khleang

Far from Siem Reap and takes about two hours using the boat. An outer floating village and a rigid village. This village has the largest population in all villages in Tonle Sap Lake and its remote location is still natural.

Prek Toal

A floating village as a starting point for bird watching in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. Habitat is important for many rare bird species. The village has a biosphere information center and a water hyacinth weaving center.

www.xvlor.com Tonle Sap is blend of river and lake systems for Mekong reservoir

Xvlor Tonle Sap is blend of river and lake systems for Mekong reservoir

Location: Tonle Sap, Cambodia.

Routes and public transport: Siem Reap is a great starting point due to nearby Angkor Wat. Flights to Siem Reap International Airport.

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