We are back with our another round of 20 interesting Lake Baikal facts. In our previous part, we learned about some truly interesting stuff about this wonderful and natural freshwater lake. We can promise that whatever we learn today about Lake Baikal will be no less interesting and mind blowing. Are you ready? Hopefully you are!
Interesting Lake Baikal Facts: 1-10
1. We mentioned in our last part that Lake Baikal is the purest and clearest freshwater lake on Earth. But just how clear it is? On a very good and clear day, you can actually see up to 40 meters below water surface.
2. This lake has islands. Not just one or two. There are 27 islands in total on Lake Baikal and most of these islands are uninhabited by humans.
3. The unique water of the lake and its amazing geography helps to create microclimates around the shores of the lakes.
4. The coastline of the lake stretches to 1,300 miles or 2,100 kilometers. On the shore one can find sponges which are currently dying and turning into black slime. The reason is yet unknown. Read more here.
5. In our last part we mentioned that the lake holds 20% of total freshwater present on Earth. Exactly how much water is that? If all people on this planet start using 500 liters of water each, every day, the total water will last for 40 years!
6. Though unrealistic way of calculation, if the depth of a lake was to be measured from the top of the mountains surrounding it to its rock hard bottom, Lake Baikal would have a depth of 12,977 meters. Just to give you a perspective, Mount Everest (the highest peak of Himalayan Ranges) is at a height of 8,848 meters and the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench has a depth of 11,022 meters.
7. Every 383 years, the total water of the lake is completely renewed. This means that the old water is totally flushed out and new water takes the place. However, this replacement is a gradual process and takes over the period of 383 years.
8. The water from the lake drains only and only into Angara River. This is the only outlet for the lake. However, there are over 544 water sources that feed the lake. Many of these sources (streams and rivers) are actually seasonal.
9. Scientists say that when the lake and Angara River were born at that location, they were just 1 kilometer wide. Today the lake has a whopping 79 kilometers of width.
10. Though it is a lake, Lake Baikal is known for experiencing some nasty storms which can lead to massive waves that grow as high as 4 to 5 meters.
Interesting Lake Baikal Facts: 11-20
11. The total area covered by Lake Baikal is equal to the total area over which the country Belgium stands!
12. There are a total of 1455 species of animals that natively live in Lake Baikal. Interestingly, these species can be found only and only in this lake. If the lake goes extinct, these animals will also go extinct. The number of animals endemic to the lake however keep on increasing every time a new scientific search is conducted.
13. There are 27 unique fish species that live only in the lake. One example is gourmet Baikal cisco. So, if you wish to eat fish that cannot be found anywhere else in world, Lake Baikal will be a good place to start.
14. During the winters, the water surface of the lake freezes. At many places the ice is awfully transparent. This happens because strong winds manage to blow away the snow from above. Also because the mineralization of water in Lake Baikal is very low, the ice becomes amazingly transparent.
15. Here is one of the many interesting Lake Baikal facts – while walking on the ice one may get the feeling that he or she will simply fall through. However, the clarity of the ice is very deceiving. The ice is actually very thick. It is so thick that big trucks can drive over. During winters, people even laid rails on the ice!
16. During the winter months when the sky is free of clouds and the water surface of the lake is totally frozen, the water beneath still supports life and it blooms! The Baikal algae that can be found underneath the ice surface develops actively.
17. Also, the frozen ice surface of the lake gets cracks which can be as long as 30 kilometers and wide as 3 meters. These cracks are important because they let in oxygen which allows the fish and other life forms survive underneath the water surface.
18. On the shores of Lake Baikal, one can find several grottoes scatters in various places. During the winter months, these grottos are adorned by icicles that are formed by freezing of dripping water.
19. A special type of ice is formed on Lake Baikal during the chilling winter months. These ice are known as “whispers” and they look like needles – up to 1 to 2 centimeters in height – floating on water.
20. The lake is very different from other freshwater lakes in several aspects. However, the most important difference is the presence of life even in the bottommost layer (known as hypolimnion) of the lake.
That concludes our second part of interesting Lake Baikal facts. However, there are a few more facts about Lake Baikal that are equally interesting. Let us take a quick look at those facts.
Bonus Lake Baikal Facts:
1. One of the most interesting Lake Baikal facts is that the lake hosts the only freshwater seal in this world. This seal is known as Nerpa.
2. The lake is very oxygen rich. This probably happens because the lake sits on top of an area formed by three tectonic plates. These tectonic plates intersect each other and end up creating minor earthquakes every few hours.
3. Scientists believe that because of these numerous earthquakes, the thermal vents at the bottom of the lake manage to circulate water even at the very bottom of the lake and keep it rich of oxygen. This explains why life can be found at the very bottom of the lake.
4. The unique biosphere of the lake manages to make the lake home to some extraordinary life forms. For instance, one can find world’s largest flatworm on this planet in this lake. This flatworm grows up to a length of 16 inches and hunts and eats fish!
5. The lake hosts a massive population of Baikal Epishura – a small crayfish which is known for eating particulates and algae that are known for lowering visibility in water. Because of Baikal Epishura, the lake’s water is incredibly clear. Also, there are several water plants that significantly contribute to water filtration process, keeping the lake extremely clear.