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Marine life


Most visitors’ encounters with fish are in the Galápagos. But there is also a vast number of fish in the Amazon. Recent inventories counted some 2500 species in the whole Amazon Basin and roughly 1000 of these are found in Ecuador. Some of them are fearsome. The electric eel can produce shocks of 600V; a school of piranhas can devour a large animal in minutes; stingrays can deliver a crippling zap; and the tiny candirú catfish can swim up the human urethra and become lodged there by erecting its sharp spines. Despite these horror stories, most Amazonian rivers are safe to swim in. Just follow the locals: shuffle your feet as you enter the water to scare off the bottom- dwelling stingrays; wear a bathing suit to avoid having a candirú swim up your urethra; and don’t swim with open, bleeding cuts or in areas where fish are being cleaned, because piranhas are attracted to blood and guts.