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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Ice Break-up, Lake Baikal

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, May 10, 2014/Categories: natural history, photography, environment

Lake Baikal in Siberia is a wonder. Besides the lake's physical beauty in Russia's far east, Baikal maintains multiple "firsts":

it holds the greatest volume of fresh water in the world; is the worlds deepest lake at over a mile deep (5,387 ft); is among the clearest of all lakes; is may be the oldest lake at 25 million years; and is inhabited by over 1300 species of animal and plant species, including many endemics, found nowhere else including a freshwater seal.

Baikal is a World Heritage Site and from the unique vantage point of space, a good portion of its nearly 400 mile length can be seen during the spring ice break-up.


Lake Baikal, Siberia  (credit: NASA)


Lake Baikal Seal  (credit: Wiki-commons)

There is an ancient shaman's legend that to dip your hands in Lake Baikal is to add a year to your life. When I visited this amazing lake with Finnish friends year ago we decided it was worth taking the shaman's idea to heart so we went full-in for a natural swim. The Baikal seals have survived 25 million years since the rift valley closed to form the lake so that was good enough for us.

WHB

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