SIBERIA • IRKUTSK REGION, REPUBLIC OF BURYATIA • AREA: 31,722 KM² • THE GREATEST DEPTH: 1642 M
01: Origin of the name of the lake. As with the age of Lake Baikal, and with its name in the scientific community there was confusion. In any case, some historians agree that the name “Baikal” originated from one of the Asian languages: Mongolian, Yakut, or Turkic. However, there are also versions that the lake was first sighted and named by the Chinese. The Chinese word, sounding like “Bay Hai”, is translated literally – “North Sea”. The majority of specialists who try to solve the riddle of the name of the deepest lake in the world believe that it originated from the Buryat language.
Buryats called the boundless water surface “Baigal”, but the members of the Russian expedition that participated in the hike to the lake as far back as the 17th century could hardly cope with the letter “g” and, without thinking twice, replaced it with “k”. So it turned out the name of Lake Baikal. Although, as already mentioned above, none of the above versions is recognized as a scientific world of reliable and proven.
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GREAT BAIKAL – THE BEATIFUL AND MOST MAJESTIC LAKE ON THE PLANET
The purest and, without doubt, the most beautiful Lake Baikal, rightfully took its place in the list of 7 wonders of Russia, according to the vote held in 2008.
Fascinating with its pristine nature and a mysterious lake is located almost in the centre of Asia on the border of Buryatia and Irkutsk region. The water surface, which overflows with mystical light, stretches for 620 kilometres from the north-east to the south-west.
If you look at the pictures of Lake Baikal made from space, then it can be noted that it looks like a crescent moon. The width of the lake varies from 24 to 79 kilometres in various places. Such dimensions allow local residents and many tourists to call Lake Baikal not a lake, but a sea.
THE SHORE OF LAKE BAIKAL EACH YEAR DIVERGES BY 2 CENTIMETRES
No matter how one would like to call this majestic reservoir of fresh water by the sea, yet this lake, which is surrounded almost from all sides by picturesque mountains and hills of extinct volcanoes. By the way, the fresh water supply in Lake Baikal is 90% of the total supply of drinking water in Russia and almost 20% of the total freshwater reserve in the world. Speaking about Lake Baikal, one cannot but say that it is considered the deepest in the world: the mirror of the lake is located 453 meters above the level of the World Ocean, and its bottom is almost 1170 meters lower.
02: Unique ecosystem. Alas, modern science cannot yet exactly answer the question of how many years Baikal, however, as well as other questions that constantly poses to scientists this amazing lake. At the present time, it is considered that Baikal, the area of which is almost 32,000 square kilometres, originated not less than 25 million years ago. There are also bolder assumptions, some scientists believe that the age of the lake exceeds 35 million years. This is a long time, even by the standards of the existence of our planet. True, it is these figures that set a new task: how for how many years did the lake remain practically untouched? The thing is that any lake does not “live” more than 15, a maximum of 20,000 years. Its bottom is covered with mud and in the course of time, it turns into an ordinary swamp. In Lake Baikal this is not observed, it’s all about the unique ecosystem of the lake in its tributaries and the only outflow, as well as in permanent earthquakes, which result in a vacuum at the depths, filled with “fresh” groundwater.
THE ARE 25 NATURE RESERVES, 3 NATIONAL PARKS AND OVER 200 NATURAL MONUMENTES ON LAKE BAIKAL. A LIVING SYMBOL OF THE LAKE IS THE SEAL
Due to its cleanliness, Lake Baikal and its surroundings are a favourite habitat for a huge number of birds and mammals. Many of the animals, birds and fish are endemic, which means that they live only in this ecosystem and are not found anywhere else in the world. Special attention of ichthyologists is attracted by fish golomyanka, which belongs to the family of viviparous. This fish lives at very deep depths, and behind the foraging goes to shallow water. This is not typical for deep-sea fish because the sharp pressure drops in almost all species lead to death. Another representative of the ichthyofauna is the smallest crustacean, known as the epishura. This is also endemic to the lake. Without it, life in Baikal would surely be lost, because it is the main food for many fish, and it is he who multiplies in incredible amounts, filters the water of Lake Baikal, clearing it of organic matter. Perhaps, it is in this crustacean that the secret of such a long “life” of the lake lies.
03: The water of Lake Baikal. Even the schoolchildren of lower grades know about the purity of Lake Baikal water in Russia. Teachers who talk about the nature of our planet often emphasize that from Baikal you can drink water without even subjecting it to boiling. There are a lot of places on Lake Baikal, where the water in the lake not only does not pose a threat to human health but is also considered curative. The infrastructure of tourism, which is constantly developing and thousands of tourists wishing to see the great Baikal like many other lakes around the world, is becoming more and more. Only an experienced guide who lives near the lake can indicate where to drink from Baikal can be absolutely safe. Despite the fact that the Selenga River, flowing from Mongolia and flowing into the lake, is polluted, but surprisingly, the water in Baikal practically does not contain dissolved salts and minerals. Simply put – it is almost identical to distilled water, passing through a multi-level purification in special laboratories.
IN SOME PARTS OF THE LAKE IT IS POSSIBLE TO EXAMINE THE BOTTOM IN THE SMALLEST AT A DEPTH OF 40 METERS FROM THE BOAT
This transparency of the water can be observed after the ice has descended: usually in the early spring, the Baikal water turns bright blue. In the summer and autumn, when the water warms up, microplankton and algae begin to develop in small quantities: it is natural at this point it is already difficult to distinguish the pitfalls at a depth of 40 meters, but the transparency is also striking in these seasons. The colour of the water changes and becomes gently turquoise.
Plunge into the tender and pure waters of Lake Baikal … – a dream! True, the dream is only for those who know about this lake very little. The thing is that the water here does not warm up even in summer above the mark of +9 degrees Celsius. Only in small and shallow bays can you expect that the water will warm up in the sun to +16. Therefore, you can swim in Baikal and see the underwater world through crystal clear water except in a hydro-suit. In winter, the water mirror is almost completely covered with thick ice, so thick that in the 19th-century locomotives were installed on the ice and the locomotives were transported through Baikal with the help of horses. Ice on the lake is an amazing sight: during severe frosts, cracks pass through it, the length of which is sometimes 30 kilometres, and their width is 3 meters.
During the formation of such a crack, a strong sound is heard in all the outskirts of Lake Baikal, which can only be compared with a howitzer shot or the thunder from a lightning that struck the earth a few meters from a man. This phenomenon was provided by nature itself, due to the formation of such cracks the water is constantly saturated with oxygen and the flora and fauna of Baikal do not die in severe frosts.
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