What is so special about Siberia’s Lake Baikal?
Located in eastern Siberia near the Mongolian border, Lake Baikal is estimated to be 25 million years old. Surrounded by mountains, forests and wild flowing rivers, Baikal is immense and breathtaking in its beauty and majesty. There are 30 rocky islands on the lake, Olkhon Island, being the biggest. Legends claim this is the birthplace of Mongolian ruler, Genghis Khan
Lake Baikal contains some 20% of the world’s fresh water and 90% of Russia’s supply. Fed by 336 rivers and streams, Baikal has its own unique array of flora and fauna and has more indigenous species of plants and animals than any other lake in the world. It holds fifty different species of fish, including bullhead, sturgeon and omul, and is home to the world’s only species of freshwater seal.
What do Russian researchers hope to accomplish in their attempt to reach the bottom of Lake Baikal?
The two Russian submersibles that dived to the seabed beneath the North Pole last year are now attempting to reach the bottom of the world’s deepest lake. Mir One and Mir Two as they are affectionately called, are expected to go as deep as 1,620 meters (nearly one mile) in search of archaeological artifacts and information concerning the lake’s tectonics (results of large scale movements of the earth’s crust). According to news sources , the operation on Lake Baikal is expected to last until mid September and it is hoped that results will also provide data for further geological, chemical and biological studies.
What is the historical significance of Lake Baikal to the Russian people?
Baikal remains an unchanged crossroads of cultures where native Sayats still herd reindeer and Buryat people maintain many of their old traditions. Siberia is a wild and as yet unexplored gateway to Mongolia and its ancient and amazing culture.
Lake Baikal is as great and deep and mysterious as Siberia itself. Technology in the form of this new expedition may shed some light on its ancient secrets, but for now its wonders remain hidden under its beautiful rippling waters.