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Diving in Lake Baikal

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Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, the two third of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In 1996 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Geography

Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world. Located in the south of Eastern Siberia it is 455 meters above sea level, and the area of the water surface is 31.5 km2. The deepest point of the lake is 1637 m (5369ft), it’s the deepest  lake in the world. (To understand how deep it is, consider that only only 6 lakes are deeper than 500 m on the entire planet).

Baikal’s history dates back to 25 – 30 million years, that’s why it’s thought to be around 30 millions years old. Recent research has enabled geophysics to conclude that Baikal is a nascent ocean. This hypothesis is based on the fact that its shores drift away at a rate of up to 2 cm (0.8 inches) per year.

baikal lake

The Baikal region is one of the most seismically active intercontinental regions on the globe.  Strong earthquakes at magnitude 7 occur at intervals of 1-2 years; earthquakes at magnitude 8 are not a new thing, but unlike the previous one, these earthquakes occur once in five years.

Fauna and flora

Baikal’s flora and fauna is unique; many species are endemic. It hosts 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals. Among algae the more numerous are diatoms – 509 species. As already said there are over thousand animal species, among them the most prevailing number make up crustaceans – 255 species, gastropods – 83 species, round worms – 100 species, flat worms – 40 species, seed shrimps – 100 species and so on.

Baikal Nerpa ( seal )

If you have chosen to become a “serious diver” and have decided to learn to control your equipment in really extreme situations, come to Lake Baikal. Look at the pictures, they will speak for themselves and show that you will hardly find a better place for that. I’d say the transparent waters of Baikal provide ideal conditions. But I have to admit that Lake Baikal is not that suitable for amateur divers, so be careful!

So after all, why exactly Baikal?

1. Baikal is one of the best diving destinations in the world and it truly deserves being called so.
2. Baikal is the most beautiful place in the world and is worth visiting even if you’re not a diver. It’s simply an amazing place with peculiar wildlife diversity and incomparable beauty.

Water temperature

Siberian water is very cold, nevertheless at summertime Baikal accumulates enough warmth for the waters not to be too cold in winter. But it doesn’t mean the lake doesn’t get frozen. It does, and remains like that until the beginning of June. The coldest temperature is registered in January (-6 degrees Fahrenheit), while the warmest period is in May-August. During this period the water temperature varies between 48-64 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest month is July with 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diving in Baikal

On January 9, Gennady Misan went for Baikal diving and this is how he describes his experience, “A typical dive site on Baikal is a shallow shelf, 10-200m long, turning into a vertical wall. There are only six sheer walls reaching more than 100-120m into the deep.

Usually, in order to be guaranteed a descent of more than 100m, you have to stand on the edge of a drop-off, move along the surface until the wall is out of sight, and then continue for another 30-40m. In other words, the descent always takes place in open water, with no markers, and from 110m (even at 50m, if the visibility is bad) —in complete darkness. Ascent will usually take place by following the seabed to the slope, then go up along the wall.”


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