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The Siberian Jewel. Discovering Lake Baikal

The Siberian Jewel. Discovering Lake Baikal

By on December 23, 2019 in Kamexplore

Our planet is full of natural wonders that never stop to amaze us, the only thing we have to do is discover them and, most importantly, protect them. Russia is packed with impressive natural monuments, untouched, harsh wilderness and uniquely beautiful sceneries. At the top of the list of its prideful possessions stands Lake Baikal. This rift lake is located in southern Siberia in between Buryat Republic in the southeast and Irkutsk Oblast in the northwest. Among so many things it is famous for, it is the largest fresh water lake by volume in the whole world; this lake amounts to approximately 23% of the fresh surface water on our planet, more than all Great Lakes in North America put together. It is also the deepest lake on Earth.

Flora and Fauna

Speaking of nature that surrounds the lake, it changes as you move along the lake due to its size. The western part has a bunch of steppes that stretch for quite some distance and if we go all the way to the southern side, the Khamar-Daban mountain range and its damp forests will offer completely different sights. In between, there are various kinds of mixed forests in which one can find great numbers of berries.

Flora and Fauna

The lake itself is an exceptionally significant natural phenomenon. Due to its size and depth, it has naturally evolved to become home for thousands of animals and plants. A huge number of them, around 80%, are endemic to the region, meaning they can be found in Lake Baikal and Lake Baikal only. In fact, the lake is so rich in biodiversity that Russian and other nationality scientists working on understanding the complex nature of Lake Baikal have coined a term for their study – “Baikalogy”.

Lake Baikal is widely famous for its clear water. It is so clean that it is safe to drink it straight from the lake. It’s not a coincidence though; unique microorganisms have found a home in this lake and continuously clean its water. But they are not the only ones making the lake so famous. The “stars” of Lake Baikal are Nerpa and Omul. Nerpa is a true natural phenomenon. It is endemic to Baikal, it is the smallest of all true seals and it is a very unique fresh water seal. They differ greatly from the Arctic seals because by adapting to Baikal’s conditions, they gained the ability to travel at great depths and in general have more blood which allows them to travel a lot longer. Scientists up until now are not exactly sure how seals got to Baikal!

Omul is the most popular fish in Baikal and the main food supply for the locals. It is a whitefish species that belongs to the salmon family and is also endemic to Baikal. Due to the fact that it is considered such great delicacy and is desired by most tourists who visit Baikal, in 2004 it has been listed as one of Baikal’s endangered species.

And indeed, there is no talking about Baikal without mentioning the environmental disaster it is facing. The Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, Planned East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline and other industrial and modern developments have put the unique flora and fauna of Lake Baikal in grievous danger. Despite the efforts UNESCO and other organizations are putting into preventing the disaster from occurring, some species are already listed as extinct and irreversible damage to this natural wonder has been done.

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