here is always high interest in things around the globe that reach the highest or lowest peaks. Whether it is the highest building or the deepest hole there is always a captivating story behind it. However, Lake Baikal is a bit different. Being the deepest and oldest lake in the world would be the main attraction but what is even more interesting is that most of the time the lake is frozen solid. Very rarely has the lake melted and even when the ice happened to be very thin the temperatures were still too cold for anyone to have a dive to find the bottom.
The lake is estimated to be 1,637 meters deep and around 25 million years old. An interesting fact is that this lake contains a fifth of the world’s freshwater reserve at around 23,000 cubic kilometers (5,670 cubic miles) of water.
The reservoir of life
One of the secrets hidden within the lake is 1000 unique species of fish (discovered thus far) that live in the lake and 245 species of water plants that are also unique to the environment. Still, scientists presume that there may be even more types of fish at the bottom of the sea, maybe even different creatures.
It was only in 2008 that a small research team dared to go to the bottom of the lake in two small submarines, however, they were only able to explore a small part of the vast lake. At such a depth, the pressure is so high that oxygen runs out really quickly.
The interesting thing is that all of these species of sea life have the key to their evolution in the ice that has been protecting them for millions of years. There are different speculations about the creation of this deep lake.
Some say that it may have been formed by a big meteorite hitting the earth 25 million years ago, although that is a fantastical claim as a meteorite with such a big dimension would have the power to destroy the whole planet.
On the other hand, a more logical explanation for the formation of this lake is the powerful shake of the tectonic plates that provoked such a big earthquake that a mountain was split into two and over millions of years created the lake.
In winter the ice ends up being even 6 meters thick, making it possible to have even cars safely journey over the lake without ever risking the ice cracking. It is fascinating how the creatures living inside the lake have evolved to adapt to such extreme conditions.
With the fame of the lake, there also are many legends, even some prehistoric. It is said that when the lake is melted if a boat dares to actually sail on the lake, due to the depth huge waves can be created out of nowhere sinking any ship. This legend was created during the ruling of Genghis Khan.
An interesting mystery is the island of the lake where an old rock construction was found with a length of 300 meters that separates the lakehead. This is believed to have been built by a native cult in the 5th century as behind this construction lays old burial grounds.
Another hypothesis about this mysterious rock formation is that it could have served as a defensive wall. Whatever the case may be, the rock formation has now become part of the lake as the ice incrusted the bottom of the rock formation.
This rock formation has become a tourist magnet even if it is very difficult to reach it due to the rough roads. The local government wanted to build a road right to the head of the lake, however, the local shamans prohibited them from doing so as that would mean covering the burial grounds of their ancestors.
Another interesting story took place in 1982 when some local fishermen alerted the police because they were seeing bright lights coming from the depths of the lake. The army came in to investigate by diving into the frozen lake to see where the light is coming from.
It is said that at 50 meters depth the soldiers encountered some humanoid creatures producing this light. Three of the soldiers were killed whilst the rest rushed to the surface. This story must be taken with a pinch of salt as this is believed to be a story created by the locals, plus there is no evidence to justify this event.