10 most interesting facts about Lake Baikal (Baigal Dalai)
• Lake Baikal is called the "pearl of Russia", and this title is fully justified. It is spoken of in an excellent form: the purest, the oldest, the deepest. With its interesting riddles, it attracts not only scientists, but also ufologists, esotericists and children.
• Here are the top 10 brief but interesting facts about Lake Baikal, or as the Buryats call it: Baigal Dalai.
10. This is the oldest lake in the world
With at least 25 million years of existence, Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world. It, like the surrounding mountains, was formed as a result of the destruction and movement of the earth's crust.
• Probably, Baikal was originally a riverbed, but tremors and cracks in the earth's crust increased its size and actually expanded the space between the banks.
• Scientists believe that first a series of lakes similar to the Great ones arose, and then in the Pliocene era (from 5,3 to 2,58 million years ago) they merged into one giant lake.
• There are several theories about what could have caused such a merger, including meteorite impacts, volcanic eruption, erosion, and earthquakes.
9. Baikal has a unique ecosystem
Under the water surface of one of most beautiful lakes in the world vibrant active life. Age, isolation, and the oxygenated water of Lake Baikal have created one of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world. Interestingly, about 80 percent of the more than 3700 species found in Lake Baikal are endemic. That is, they are not found anywhere else on Earth.
• Probably the best known of these species is the Baikal seal, the world's only exclusively freshwater seal. Scientists aren't sure how seals got to Lake Baikal and evolved, but they suspect seals may have swum down the prehistoric river from the Arctic.
• Other endemic species include the oily golomyanka fish and the Baikal omul.
• In total, more than 50 species of fish live in Lake Baikal, and aquatic invertebrate species include more than 100 species of flatworms, more than 700 anthropopod species (insects, arachnids and crustaceans) and more than 170 species of molluscs. These are scientifically proven facts.
8. Glowing balls are often seen over Baikal
Locals and fishermen have often reported unusual glowing orbs appearing over the lake. Thanks to this phenomenon, Baikal has become one of the the most popular destinations for mystical tourism.
• Locals believe that these balls are nothing but spirits, and that it is not safe to be around them. And the scientific community believes that the appearance of these spheres may be caused by spontaneous combustion of methane released from the lake. However, direct evidence for this theory has not yet been found.
7. Baikal is one of the seven underwater wonders of the world
Fun fact: Lake Baikal was chosen by the conservation group CEDAM in 1990 as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world, along with:
- Galapagos Islands.
- Republic of Palau in Micronesia.
- The coral reef of Ras Mohammed in the northern part of the Red Sea.
- Belize barrier reef.
- Great Barrier Reef.
- Deep ocean fissures found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
6. There can be gas or mud volcanoes at the bottom of Baikal
Photographs of Lake Baikal taken from space show dark circles on the lake's frozen icy surface during the winter months. These rings with a diameter of 5 to 7 kilometers did not change their location, but they did not appear every year.
• Scientists say that this is the result of the activity of gas or mud volcanoes located at the bottom of the lake. When these volcanoes erupt, warm gas rushes to the surface and underwater cyclones form.
• These cyclones are warmer compared to water, and when the gas reaches the surface of the ice, these dark circles form. This theory of underwater cyclones caused by gaseous volcanoes is credible because the ice inside the circles is more water-saturated and thinner than the ice in other areas. In addition, scientists have identified micro-cracks in the ice inside the circle, indicating that the gas managed to pass through them.
• And in 2015, scientists from Irkutsk State University found a mud volcano in the underwater part of the Selenga River Delta. He was given the name Telny, in honor of the nearest railway station.
• Here is another interesting fact about Baikal: from the Buryat language, the word “Bai Gal” is translated as “standing fire”. Perhaps, in the old days, people observed torches of burning methane on Baikal.
5. Baikal is a natural source of fuel
When deep-sea submersibles explored the lake, they found gas hydrates, solid compounds made up of water and gas.
• Fun fact: heating 1 cubic meter of gas hydrate can produce 160-180 cubic meters of natural gas. For this reason, the scientific community is considering gas hydrates as a future fuel resource.
• At the moment, Baikal is the only freshwater lake in the world that has both direct and indirect evidence of the presence of gas hydrates.
4. Baikal is the cleanest lake in the world
Stunning purity of Baikal – the result of the purity of the melted ice, the activity of microscopic crustaceans that feed on floating debris, and the lack of mineral salts and organic impurities in the lake. Under favorable conditions, you can consider objects located at a depth of 35 meters from the surface.
3. Only one river flows out of Baikal
Interestingly, more than 330 streams and rivers flow into Lake Baikal, but the Angara River is the only way out of the lake. At the source of the Angara there is a rock – the Shaman-stone. According to legend, the hero Baikal threw him after his daughter Angara, who, against the will of her father, fled to the handsome Yenisei.
2. Baigal Dalai – the sunniest lake
If you decide to spend your holidays on Lake Baikal, you will make the right choice. Indeed, during the year the number of sunny days here is greater than in the popular Russian resort – the Black Sea coast. For example, there are about 50 cloudy days on Olkhon Island per year.
1. Baikal can turn into an ocean
Scientists put forward an interesting hypothesis that Lake Baikal is a gradually developing ocean. This hypothesis is based on the fact that the lake is located on the edge of the Siberian platform, and since the tectonic plates are moving, the boundaries of the lake are gradually expanding – by 2 cm per year. This is comparable to the speed at which Africa and South America are drifting apart.
• Over time (in the very, very distant future), the lake may turn into an ocean.