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well the canal goes east to west and splits the country of panama in half more or less. its also a lot more saltwater/braackish than you think. theres just no way for piranha to naturally migrate up north past venuzuela/columbia area. and even then their natural habitat suits them well enough where they wouldnt migrate.
piranha ARE introduced by people into un natural waters. this is highly enforced by many wild life and game associations since they can ravage a natural fish population.

the panama canal in short is a water way connecting the pacific with the carribean. and the canal waters are just too brackish for a piranha to exist in.

6,748 Posts
O2 is correct, that the Panama Canal is solid concert to seperate South American from Central & North American perventing migration between the continents.


The Panama Canal (Spanish: Canal de Panamá) is a major ship canal that traverses the Isthmus of Panama in Central America, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Construction of the canal was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. It has had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (6,000 miles), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn.[1] Although the concept of a canal near Panama dates back to the early 16th century, the first attempt to construct a canal began in 1880 under French leadership. After this attempt failed and saw 22,000 workers die, the project of building a canal was attempted and completed by the United States in Panama in the early 1900s, with the canal opening in 1914. The building of the 77 km (48 mi) canal was plagued by problems, including disease (particularly malaria and yellow fever) and landslides. By the time the canal was completed, a total of 27,500 workers are estimated to have died in the French and U.S. attempts.

Since opening, the canal has been enormously successful, and continues to be a key conduit for international shipping. Each year more than 14,000 ships pass through the canal, carrying more than 205 million tons of cargo. By 2002 about 800,000 ships had used the canal altogether.[2]

The canal can accommodate vessels from small private yachts up to fairly large commercial ships. The maximum size of vessel that can use the canal is known as Panamax; an increasing number of modern ships exceed this limit, and are known as post-Panamax vessels. A typical passage through the canal by a cargo ship takes around nine hours. 14,011 vessels passed through in 2005, with a total capacity of 278.8 million tons, making an average of almost 40 vessels per day.

The earliest mention of a canal across the isthmus of Central America dates back to 1524, when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Spain, suggested that a canal in Panama would ease the voyage for ships travelling to and from Spain and Peru.[4]

Given the strategic situation of Central America as a narrow land dividing two great oceans, other forms of trade links were attempted over the years. The ill-fated Darien scheme was an attempt launched by the Kingdom of Scotland in 1698 to set up an overland trade route, but was defeated by the generally inhospitable conditions, and abandoned two years later in 1700.[5] Finally, the Panama Railway was built across the isthmus opening in 1855. This overland link greatly facilitated trade, and this vital piece of infrastructure was a key factor in the selection of the later canal route.

An all-water route between the oceans was still seen as the ideal solution, and the idea of a canal was enhanced by the success of the Suez Canal, the French, under Ferdinand de Lesseps, began construction on a sea-level canal (i.e., without locks) through the province of Panama (as it was then) on January 1, 1880. The French began work in a rush with insufficient prior study of the geology and hydrology of the region.[6] Disease, particularly malaria and yellow fever, sickened and killed vast numbers of employees, ranging from labourers to top directors of the French Company. Public health measures were ineffective because the role of the mosquito was then unknown. These conditions made it impossible to maintain an experienced work force as fearful technical employees quickly returned to France. Even the hospitals contributed to the problem, providing breeding places for mosquitos inside the unscreened wards. Actual conditions were hushed-up in France to avoid recruitment problems.[6] In 1893, after a great deal of work, the French scheme was abandoned due to disease and the sheer difficulty of building a sea-level canal, as well as lack of French field experience, like downpours causing steel equipment to rust.[7] The high toll from disease was one of the major factors in the failure, as many as 22,000 workers are estimated to have died during the main period of French construction (1881-1889).[6]

According to Stephen Kinzer's 2006 book Overthrow, in 1898 the chief of the French Canal Syndicate (a group that owned large swathes of land across Panama), Philippe Bunau Varilla, hired William Nelson Cromwell (of the US law firm Sullivan & Cromwell) to lobby the US Congress to build a canal across Panama, and not across Nicaragua.

In 1902, after having run into a 10-cent Nicaraguan postal stamp produced in the US by the American Bank Note Company erroneously depicting a fuming Momotambo volcano (which was nearly dormant and stands more than 160 km (100 miles) from the proposed Nicaraguan canal path) and taking advantage of a particularly volcanic year in the Caribbean, Cromwell planted a story in the New York Sun reporting that the Momotambo volcano had erupted and caused a series of seismic shocks. He thereafter sent leaflets with the above stamps pasted on them to all U.S. Senators as witness to the volcanic activity in Nicaragua.

On June 19, 1902, three days after senators received the stamps, they voted for the Panama route for the canal. For his lobbying efforts, Cromwell received the sum of $800,000.[8]

The United States, under Theodore Roosevelt, bought out the French equipment and excavations, and began work on May 4, 1904, after helping Panama achieve independence from Colombia. In exchange for U.S. help, Panama would give the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone. A significant investment was made in eliminating disease from the area, particularly yellow fever and malaria, the causes of which had recently been discovered (see Health measures during the construction of the Panama Canal). With the diseases under control, and after significant work on preparing the infrastructure, construction of an elevated canal with locks began in earnest. The Americans also gradually replaced the old French equipment with machinery designed for a larger scale of work, quickening the pace of construction.[6] President Roosevelt had the former French machinery minted into pins for all workers who spent at least two years on the construction to commemorate their contribution to the building of the canal.

In 1907 US President Theodore Roosevelt appointed George Washington Goethals as chief engineer of the Panama Canal. The building of the Canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of the target date of June 1, 1916. The canal was formally opened on August 15, 1914 with the transit of the cargo ship Ancon.[9] Coincidentally, this was also the same month that fighting in World War I began in Europe.

The advances in hygiene resulted in a relatively low death toll during the American construction; still, 5,609 workers died during this period (1904-1914).[10] This brought the total death toll for the construction of the canal to around 27,500.

By the 1930s it was seen that water supply would be an issue for the canal; this prompted the building of the Madden Dam across the Chagres River above Gatun Lake. The dam, completed in 1935, created Alajuela Lake, which acts as additional water storage for the canal.[11][12] In 1939, construction began on a further major improvement: a new set of locks for the canal, large enough to carry the larger warships which the U.S. had under construction, or planned for future construction. The work proceeded for several years, and significant excavation was carried out on the new approach channels; but the project was canceled after World War II.

After the war, United States' control of the canal and the Canal Zone surrounding it became contentious as relations between Panama and the U.S. became increasingly tense. Many Panamanians felt that the canal zone rightfully belonged to Panama; student protests were met by the fencing in of the zone and an increased military presence.[15] Negotiations toward a new settlement began in 1974, and resulted in the Torrijos-Carter Treaties. Signed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos of Panama on September 7, 1977, this set in motion the process of handing the canal over to Panamanian control for free as long as Panama signed a treaty guaranteeing the permanent neutrality of the Canal (Neutrality Treaty) and allowed the U.S. to come back anytime. Though controversial within the U.S., the treaty led to full Panamanian control effective at noon on December 31, 1999, and control of the canal was handed over to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

Before this handover, the government of Panama held an international bid to negotiate a 25-year contract for operation of the Canal's container shipping ports (chiefly two facilities at the Atlantic and Pacific outlets), which was won by the Chinese firm Hutchison Whampoa, a Hong Kong-based shipping concern whose owner Li Ka Shing is the wealthiest man in China.
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