The Amazon River is not only the greatest in the world, it is home to many other “Extremes” of the natural world. Have you ever seen a catfish?They’re usually found in warm, slow moving waters of lakes and streams, and some people keep them as pets in aquariums. Catfish are pretty creepy looking fish with big flat heads and “whiskers” on either side of their heads (hence the name, catfish). Most catfish that we’re familiar with here in the U.S. are anywhere from eight inches long to about five feet, weighing in at up to 60 pounds. But the catfish that live in the world’s greatest river have all the room in the world to grow as big as nature will allow – they have been captured weighing over 200 pounds! One of the largest freshwater fish in the world is found living in the waters of the Amazon River. Arapaima, also known locally as Pirarucu, Arapaima gigas are the largest, exclusively fresh water fish in the world. They have been found to reach a length of 15 ft/4m and can weigh up to 440lbs/200kg.
Amazon River Facts
So, how did the Amazon get to be so big? The first reason has to do with its location – right at the equator. Around the “belt line” of the earth lies a warm, tropical zone where over 400 in/1016cm of rain fall every year.
That averages out to more than an inch (3cm) of rain, everyday! A lot of water falls onto the land surrounding the river, what is called the “Amazon River drainage basin”. A good way to understand what a drainage basin is to think of the whole northern half of the continent of South America as a shallow dish, or saucer. Whenever rain falls and lands anywhere in the river basin it all runs into the lowest place in the pan, which happens to be the Amazon River. The sheer volume of rain in the Amazon jungle, as well as the slope of the surrounding land, combine to create the enormous river known as the Amazon.