Rivers: The Amazon…

The Amazon River in South America is the largest river by discharge of water in the world, and the second in length. The river enters the Atlantic Ocean in north-eastern Brazil in a broad estuary about 240 kilometres (150 mi) wide. The mouth of the main stem is 80 kilometres (50 mi). The width of the Amazon is between 1.6 and 10 kilometres (1.0 and 6.2 mi) at low stage, but expands during the wet season to 48 kilometres (30 mi) or more. Because of its vast dimensions, it is sometimes called "The River Sea".

The Amazon averages a discharge of about 209,000 cubic metres per second, approximately 6,591 cubic kilometres per annum which is greater than the next seven largest independent rivers combined.

The Amazon basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, with an area of approximately 7,050,000 square kilometres (2,720,000 sq mi), and accounts for roughly one-fifth of the world's total river flow. 

The portion of the river's drainage basin in Brazil alone is larger than any other river's basin. The Amazon enters Brazil with only one-fifth of the flow it finally discharges into the Atlantic Ocean, yet already has a greater flow at this point than the discharge of any other river.

Piranhas live in the Amazon River. They are the most feared creatures there. They like to hunt alone and are so called "loners". 

Another feared creature is called the anaconda. The green anaconda, or Eunecetes murinus, is the largest and heaviest snake in the world, although it is not the longest. This snake is so big that even a book of records fail to determine its maximum size, although scientists think it can grow up to 22 feet in length. Anacondas are frightening predators because they will overpower and eat virtually anything including fish, birds, deer, crocodiles and even other anacondas. The good news is that there is no actual evidence that an anaconda has ever eaten a human being although there are many unconfirmed stories of man-eating anacondas.

One of the largest freshwater fish in the world—the arapaima, pirarucu, or paiche—can grow up to 15 feet in length. The torpedo-shaped fish is a highly efficient predator that can quickly devour other species of fish. Arapaima is a frightening predator because they can literally jump out of the water and attack prey. Strangely enough, the arapaima needs surface air to breathe. It has gills, but it has to augment its air supply with a lung-like organ called a swim bladder. Ironically, the arapaima is a popular food in Brazil, so it has been fished nearly to extinction in some areas. The Brazilian government has banned commercial fishing for it.

It is hard to believe, but an electric eel can produce a jolt of electricity of up to 600 volts. That’s similar to the effects of a stun gun or a taser. It won’t kill a healthy person, but it will knock a person down or cause a heart attack in some people. Fortunately, they don’t eat humans, but some people are believed to have drowned in the Amazon or its tributaries after an encounter with an electric eel. Electric eels use special cells called electrolytes to stun or kill their prey before consuming it. Ironically enough, an electric eel isn’t an eel at all: it is actually a species of cat fish!

No bridge crosses the river along its entire length. The Amazon and its tributaries flow through the countries of Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean 6, 437 kilometers (4,000 miles) from the Amazon's headwaters high in the Andes mountains of Peru.

The Amazon River is fresh water. It accounts for one fifth of the total volume of fresh water that discharges into oceans worldwide.

The southern reaches of the Amazon rainforest are drying up – a little bit more each year. That’s according to a new study which finds that since 1979, the region’s dry season has got about a week longer each decade.


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