A Lake of World Records
Lake Baikal is a sight to behold. Located in southern Siberia, the lake covers an area of almost 32,000 square kilometers (12,000 sq. mi). Often referred to as the pearl of Siberia, Lake Baikal boasts quite a few world records for lakes. It is the largest lake, by volume, in the world. (The largest lake by area award goes to the Caspian Sea.) Lake Baikal holds more water than all of the Great Lakes combined, an estimated 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater. It can hold so much water because it is extraordinarily deep. Lake Baikal’s maximum depth of 1,609 meters (5,387 feet) makes it the deepest lake in the world. It is the oldest lake in the world as well. Forming 25 million years ago, Lake Baikal, it is suspected, began as a river basin.
Lake Baikal is home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world. This large number of unique, endemic species can be attributed to Lake Baikal’s isolation. Surrounded by mountains and forests, organisms here have had millions of years to meander evolutionarily from their closest relatives. One of these organisms is the Baikal seal, the only seal in the world that lives entirely in freshwater. Its closest relative, the Arctic Ringed Seal, is over 3,000 km of rugged terrain away. Baikal is a land of uniqueness, isolation, beauty and magnificent size.
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Photo courtesy of Russian Times