A lot of people find themselves staring at lakes, rivers or oceans for several amounts of time while doing nothing. They tend to lose themselves because of the tranquility that they feel. A gentle breeze from these bodies of water often passes by leaving a feeling of comfort. Oguta Lake does the same to the people of Nigeria.
Aside from seeing peaceful sights, the lake also boasts of being the largest lake in the Imo State located in Southeastern Nigeria.
Apparently, the lake originated from a natural depression on the land surrounding it.
The lake receives an average rainfall of 3,100 mm every year.
An equatorial rainforest belt surrounds the lake but numerous palm oil plantations now inhabit the circumference of the lake.
Oguta Lake has a rich supply of different phytoplankton species; more than 250 species to be exact.
In a study done in 1983, researchers found out that despite this abundance of phytoplankton in the area, their productivity is relatively low.
They attributed this discovery to the low fish production of the lake.
However, this did not deter the local fishermen in the area to continue their fishing here.
The value of Oguta Lake
Despite the so-called low production of fish in the area, the people from Oguta, Nkwesi, Awo and Orsu gain huge advantages from the lake.
Aside from fishing, they obviously get their water supply from here.
A large amount of their protein is obtained from Oguta Lake.
The locals collect sand from the lake and then use it for construction purposes.
A 3-star hotel named the Oguta Lake Motel has a resort that attracts tourists from all over the world to view the lake and visit Oguta in particular.
Last but not least, the lake also serves as a septic pool for sewage from the city.
A brief history
The titular lake is known as a finger lake.
Being a finger lake does not mean that it’s small.
Narrow; yes, but never small. When the region was still a British colony, the lake served as a port for trading palm oil products.
The United African Company constructed jetties at the lake years ago and are still existing up to this day.
Another role that Oguta Lake performed is being a marine base.
The Biafran navy and army used the lake as their base during the civil war between the Nigerian government and Biafra.
The local people that live around the vicinity of the lake believe that a goddess named Uhamiri serves as the lake’s deity.
The composition of Oguta Lake
Natural occurrence formed the lake through deposits of silt, clay, and sand. These sediments act as a dam on the lower part of the Njaba river. The lake is more than 8 km long and 2 km wide.
Important facts about Oguta Lake
1. The appearance of vegetation around the lake
At first, it has a rainforest. However, because of the fertile land, palm products replaced the rainforest.
2. Crops grown near the lake
The local people also farm crops as their way of living aside from fishing. Some of the crops planted near the lake are palm oil products, yams, and cassava.
The farmers here use a technique called shifting cultivation. They do not plant the same crop every time so that the soil would not be used to the same crop being planted on it.
The soil will regenerate by itself by the time another type of crop would be planted on the soil. This increases the fertility of the soil and the productivity of the crops.
3. Fertilizer level used on the soil surrounding the lake
Sure, farmers use fertilizers to make the soil healthy and ready for crop plantation. However, since the soil near the lake is fertile enough, farmers tend to use a little bit of fertilizer only.
4. Changes in the land near Oguta Lake
Sad to say, the technique that the farmers use for farming leads to the gradual deforestation on the land. In addition, urbanization projects contribute to deforestation in the region.
5. Animals found in the vicinity of the lake
Needless to say, the local people also use animals as their source of livelihood. After all, Oguta Lake provides water supply for them and their animals.
Some animal types grown here are cattle, poultry, sheep, goats, and swine.
The present situation
A serious siltation issue currently occurs on the lake.
Although the location of the lake experiences a high average rainfall rate, the land surrounding it has lost much of its thick vegetation because of agricultural techniques done by the locals on the land.
Soil erosion commonly happens in the area and it erodes to the rivers near the lake.
This resulted in an increase of siltation in Oguta Lake and the rivers linked to it.
The local laws that protect Oguta Lake
A lake as spectacular as this obviously needs protection and the Environmental Protection Act of 1988 does just that.
It handles the protection of the lake’s aquatic life and overall environment.
Great law but enforcing it is another thing altogether.
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The locals need more education about the law for it to be successfully implemented.
The good news is that the local people have their own set of rules to protect Oguta Lake’s environment.
Since they worship a goddess on the lake, they make sure that they follow these rules down to the last letter.
What attracts people to visit Oguta Lake?
Aside from the fact that the lake looks peaceful, a specific phenomenon happens here that prompt tourists to visit the region.
An exact location where the lake’s blue-colored water meets the brown-colored and muddy waters of the Urashi river attracts tourists from all over the world.
If one wants to experience this phenomenon first-hand, they need to take a 15-minute speedboat ride to the location.
Having a drone that would fly overhead on this location would show a spectacular sight.
The locals call it the Confluence at Oguta Lake.
The magical thing about this meeting is that when you approach the said location, you will see that the water divides into the two aforementioned colors.
This part of the lake and river flows side by side without any hint of them mixing into one.
This phenomenon happens without any natural or man-made interventions which make it all the more mysterious and captivating.
Legend has it that these bodies of water personify a male and a female union.
The blue-colored water is the female one and known as Ogbuide.
The male one; named Urashi, is the brown-colored water.
This couple had a falling out and never made up.
They then proceeded to flow separately up to this day.
The locals also believe that if one places both types of water in a bottle in an attempt to unify them, the bottle will explode.
Another tourist attraction in the region is the Oguta Lake Motel and resort.
As mentioned earlier, this 3-star hotel provides tourists a place to stay when they visit the lake.
They can also play golf in the resort. Of course, they can also use a canoe or a speedboat to explore the lake in its entirety.
Another Oguta Lake legend
This story aims to promote respect for the traditions that the local people have for the lake.
Some people visited the lake to see its beauty and wonder.
While hitching a boat ride on the lake, one of them proudly stood up and declared that the lake was not that deep and that he can swim easily on it.
He then asked the boatman to take another trip to the lake so that he can swim.
The boatman/tour guide did as he was told and as he turned the boat around, the tourist outbalanced himself and fell on the river.
His body disappeared afterward.
Respect the traditions of the lake.
Oguta Lake is found in the Imo State in Southeastern Nigeria. The lake’s catchment area includes the Njaba River’s drainage basin and a segment of the Niger River’s floodplain. It shares boundaries with the Delta and Anambra River states.
If the question asks about the dimensions of the lake and its formation, it spans more than 8 km long and less than 2 ½ km wide. The lake formed naturally through sand and clay. A dam formed by these sediments contributed to the formation of the lake.
Nigeria has a great number of lakes. More than 50 lakes adorn this beautiful country. Some of the lakes are Oguta Lake, Lake Chad, Ekwo Lake, Ebean Lake, Lake Halatu, and a lot more. Some of these lakes were naturally-made while some are man-made reservoirs.
Oguta Lake is one of the largest naturally-made lakes in Nigeria. The other one is Lake Chad. However, Lake Chad continues to experience shrinkages in its waters for quite some time now.