Monday, February 19, 2018

The lost lagoon of Sosua: El Canal

When I was preparing the article about the history of Sosua I reviewed several old maps of Hispaniola: according to some of these old maps there used to be a lagoon in Sosua, a lagoon in Cabarete and a larger one east of Sabaneta de Yasica.
The map where these lakes are more evident is a 1905 map by Casimiro de Moya (a Dominican historian, writer and politician 1849-1915):

old sosua map

In this map there are three lagoons:
1-Lagoon  of Orì east of Sabaneta de Yasica
2-Lagoon of Cabarete 
3-Lagoon El Canal east of Sosua between Sosua and Cabarete

While seasonal remains of a lagoon can still be seen just west of Cabarete what happen to the lagoon "El Canal" just outside of Sosua? The toponym "El Canal" is still there even on recent maps such the Bing Map below, however the lagoon is no longer there:

sosua map

El Canal is how a  distric of Sosua is marked on the map: it's the district os some well known  residencial communities such as Perla Marina, Sea Horse Ranch and those near Laguna beach (Playa Laguna).  The toponym "playa Laguna" may well be another clue that there once stood a lagoon.
As incredible as it may sound, in an area of Sosua where we are now used to see condos, villas and hotels, just 120  years ago there was a long and narrow lagoon called "Laguna El Canal".

To test this hypotesis I used digital elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography mission to obtain a 3D digital elevation model of the flatlands between Sosua and Cabarete: these data support the idea that the lost lagoon was indeed between Laguna beach and Perla Marina as that position is consistent with the presence of a small hydrographic basin ending in a flat and low area where a lagoon may have formed between the coast and the higher hills behind :

sosua 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model SOSUA

sosua 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model: tentative position of El Canal lagoon Sosua

sosua cabarete 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model:Sosua-Cabarete region