Lake Baikal, located in southern Siberia and measuring around 31,500 km², is a body of water of superlatives: It is the largest freshwater reservoir and, at 25 million years old, the oldest freshwater lake on earth. With a water depth of 1637 m, it is also the deepest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Baikal has a rich and unique flora and fauna. A large part of the animal and plant species is endemic, so only occurs there.
Lake Baikal: facts
|Official title:||Baikal lake|
|Natural monument:||Protected area of 88,000 km² with the 25 million year old and up to 1,637 m deep Lake Baikal with a surface of 31,500 km², a depth of view of up to 40 m and an extension of 636 km in length and up to 80 km in width; 20% of the world’s available unfrozen freshwater reserves; 1987 Protection of a 56,500 km² protection zone of Lake Baikal, in which 365 rivers flow; 1998 lawsuit against paper mill for discharging 210,000 m 3 of polluted sewage; In 1999 150 seals died as a result of pollution|
|Country:||Russia, Southeast Siberia|
|Location:||between Irkutsk, Nizneangarsk, Ulan-Ude and Slyudjanka|
|Meaning:||the »Galápagos of Russia« and the oldest and deepest lake in the world with the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater fauna|
|Flora and fauna:||Larch species such as Larix dahurica, pine species such as Pinus sibirica, and also alder species such as Alnus glutinosa; 1500 aquatic species, including 80 flatworm species, but mostly the Baikal ringed seal; Land mammal species such as northern pika, Siberian fire weasel, sable, wolverine, elk, Siberian red deer; Bird species such as white-tailed eagles, snow grouse, capercaillie, Malay wasp buzzard, black kite|
To the banks full of secrets
According to dentistrymyth, Siberia, the land of severe winters, is mysterious and rough. Icy winds and furious snowstorms accompany the longing of the travelers who lead them to the shores of Lake Baikal. Anyone who lingers at it and scooped up a cup of the “magical” water will feel the irrepressible desire to return for the rest of their life.
This lake is the deepest at 1,637 meters, and it is also the oldest freshwater inland body of water on earth, into which over 300 large and small rivers flow. A fifth of the earth’s fresh water supply fills this gigantic Siberian “sea”, which is bordered by high mountains. Only one stream, the Angara, leaves the lake. “Old, gray, grim man” is what the Siberyaks call Lake Baikal and “holy sea”, because to call the spring-clear pearl of Siberia a lake would be an insult. The European envoy Isbrant Ides said in his notes at the end of the 17th century: “When I had left the monastery of St. Nicholas, which is located at the mouth of the Angara, I went out to sea. Many people warned me beforehand with great zeal and pleaded with me, When running out into the wild water, not to say ‘lake’, but ‘Dalai’ or ‘sea’. And they added that many excellent people who set out to Baikal and referred to it only as a lake – in other words, standing water – soon fell victim to violent storms or at least were in danger of death. ”
Lake Baikal is a huge rift valley, the formation of which can be traced back to tremendous tectonic movements. The lake has a unique climate and an ecosystem that is unique in the world. Several hundred animal species live here, as well as the Baikal ringed seal, which can only be found in Lake Baikal, is gray-brown on the back and silver-colored on the belly and weighs up to 90 kilograms. The seals mostly spend the winter in the water in the southern part of the lake, but they also get onto the ice surface through the air holes that they make for themselves. They lie there for hours, especially in April and May when they enjoy the first spring sun. Despite the severe Siberian winter, a layer of ice several meters thick does not form on the lake until January, over which the car traffic then rolls. before the ice thins again in May and the lake gradually frees itself from its heavy burden. The tiny Epishura crab populates the upper layers of the water. It filters the water incessantly, so that you can look up to 40 meters deep in clean parts of the lake. “The water of Baikal is turquoise and clearer than that of the Black Sea. It is said that in deep places you can see up to a wer – this is more than a kilometer – far. I was able to see such places myself with their rocks and mountains, which are sunk in turquoise, so that it ran ice cold over my skin «, the Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, who became famous for his impressionistic mood dramas, describes the lake. The pride of the Baikal fishermen is the omul, a fish related to the whitefish, who was originally at home in salt water. The richness of species and the diversity of the flora and fauna living in the lake are a topic of concern to scholars from all over the world. But there are still many questions that have remained unanswered, has Lake Baikal kept its secrets and mankind kept its enthusiasm, as did one of the most famous writers in Siberia, Valentin Grigoryevich Rasputin:
“The Baikal, one would think, must crush man by its majesty and size, for it is unbearable and enigmatic. But he lets man outgrow himself. At Lake Baikal, the rare feeling of sophistication and spirituality floods you, as if you had touched the seal of eternity and perfection, as if you were touched by the breath of omnipotence. It seems to one that one is gifted simply because one is allowed to stand on these banks, breathe this air and drink this water. Nowhere else will you ever again feel so clearly and so completely the longed-for merging with nature. ”