Bahia Bonito

Just a few kilometres south of Bonito are the huge headwaters of the Rio Formosa.
After a violent stormy night, the temperature dropped dramatically to 14°C! It was not to get much warmer for the whole day.
Despite a sky heavy with clouds, we headed for Bahia Bonito. First we had to pick out suitable wetsuits again and follow the jungle trail for a short while. After around 20 minutes our guide showed us our destination for the day.


An incredible sight

The bay-like headwaters were completely covered in huge groups of Echinodorus macrophyllus. The water here was 1.5 to 2 m deep and some Echinodorus almost reached the surface. Despite the chilly weather we jumped straight into the crystal clear water and were continually amazed. The new leaves on the large water plantain plants were especially colourful: bright pink standing out against the rich green shades of the older leaves. We were also joined again by big swarms of the tetra, Brycon hilarii, which were already familiar to us.

In some places there were plant communities of Echinodorus macrophyllus and Helanthium bolivianum. However, the leaves of the Helanthium were not as brightly coloured as in the Rio Sucuri. In other places there were huge carpets of the stonewort, Chara rusbyana. However, it gradually became too cold in the 23 °C water. Out of the water though, there were lots of interesting plants to investigate. In a small stream with a sandy floor lots of springs swirled the white sand around. A few metres further on, a light green moss carpet covered the stones under water in the fast-flowing stream. A gorgeous aquascaping scene! In general, everywhere here in the deep jungle we find many wonderful species of moss, foliage plants and impressive giant trees.

We were so enchanted that we plunged into the beautiful bay again the next day to take some more photos. This time the sun shone in a cloudless sky. Like the other springs in recent days, towards the course of the river the current gets stronger. In the 2 - 3 m deep water there were proper tree-sized specimens of Gymnocoronis spilanthoides, a well-known aquarium plant. It is somewhat reminiscent of a species of Hygrophila and is known as the Senegal tea plant. A few metres further on there was a zone with Potamogeton illinoensis densely covering an incredible expanse. Here and there Echinodorus macrophyllus grew out of the dense carpet of pondweed.

We swam through a curtain of tiny bubbles caused by the sunlight and the associated high level of assimilation.

An unforgettable feeling and an incredibly amazing atmosphere!
Like other river biotopes in and around Bonito, these headwaters are currently still strictly protected. We can only hope that this natural treasure is preserved. Unfortunately the clearing of natural areas in Brazil is dramatic, as the cattle breeders and farmers of soya and other farmed products are very economically and politically powerful.