Imag­ine that you are swim­ming in a deep lake and can­not see the bot­tom of it. You only feel the freez­ing cold water below you and the abyss of water stretch­ing into infin­i­ty. Many peo­ple are afraid of the deep, and even the best swim­mer in the world can feel fear after hear­ing about the leg­ends and mys­ter­ies that envel­op the bot­tom­less waters of the world’s deep­est lakes. The depths of any lake vary with cli­mate and rain­fall sea­sons, but in gen­er­al there are cer­tain con­stants. Today we explore the ten deep­est lakes in the world, learn about their his­to­ry and secrets.

deep lakes

10. Lake Matano

Lake Matano is of tec­ton­ic ori­gin and is locat­ed in South Sulawe­si in Indone­sia. It is an impor­tant fresh­wa­ter resource in the area and the deep­est lake in the coun­try with a max­i­mum depth of 590 meters. Lake Matano is known for its extreme­ly clear waters and many native fish species. On its shores there are large reserves of nick­el ore.

9. Crater Lake

With a col­or­ful vol­canic past, Crater Lake is locat­ed in Ore­gon’s Crater Lake Nation­al Park. It is a place of immea­sur­able beau­ty, sur­round­ed by cliffs 600 meters high, with two small islands. Crater is a breath­tak­ing open sea, a real lab­o­ra­to­ry for pho­tog­ra­phers. It is the deep­est lake in the Unit­ed States, with a max­i­mum depth of 594 meters, and the clean­est water in North Amer­i­ca (in terms of pol­lu­tion free). The lake is fed by the melt­ing of win­ter snow. Crater formed 7,700 years ago after a mas­sive erup­tion, but the leg­ends can tell a lot more about it. The Indi­an tribe Kla­math speaks of a vio­lent war between Llao, the spir­it of the under­world, who lived in Mount Maza­ma, and Skel­lo, the spir­it of the High­er World. Llao fell in love with Loch, the daugh­ter of the Indi­an chief Kla­math, but was reject­ed and decid­ed to pun­ish peo­ple with the curse of fire. Skel­lo came to help and after a long fight, he man­aged to defeat Llao, whom he impris­oned in the depths of Mount Maza­ma. Final­ly, he cov­ered the hole with a mag­nif­i­cent lake.

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8. Great Slave Lake

The Great Slave Lake cov­ers an area of ​​11,000 sq. miles of the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries of Cana­da and reach­es 615 meters deep, mak­ing it the deep­est lake in North Amer­i­ca. Due to low tem­per­a­tures in the area for eight months of the year, the lake is almost always par­tial­ly frozen, and dur­ing the win­ter the ice is so strong that trucks and trail­ers dri­ve over it. Although there is no phys­i­cal evi­dence yet, rumor has it that an uniden­ti­fied large crea­ture lives in the Great Slave Lake. Many speak of a large hump in the water, usu­al­ly mis­tak­en for a rock until it sinks back into the depths of the sea, or of an alli­ga­tor-like mon­ster with a point­ed head. One Roman Catholic priest even saw a large crea­ture with the head of a drag­on that came out onto the shores of the lake. The crea­ture was sub­se­quent­ly named Slavey.

7. Lake Issyk Kul

In the Repub­lic of Kyr­gyzs­tan, in the north­ern moun­tains of the Tien Shan, is Issyk-Kul, a salt water lake that was a very devel­oped metrop­o­lis 2,500 years ago. The aver­age water depth is 304 meters, while the deep­est point drops to 668 meters. Accord­ing to leg­end, dur­ing pre-Islam­ic times, the king of the local ruler had the ears of a don­key. He man­aged to hide them, while killing all his hair­dressers in order not to reveal the secret. One day, one of the bar­bers ran away and revealed a secret that caused the water to rise and flood the king­dom. Indeed, archae­o­log­i­cal finds have indi­cat­ed the pres­ence of an advanced ancient civ­i­liza­tion at the site where Lake Issyk-Kul is cur­rent­ly locat­ed. It is one of the deep­est lakes in the world.

6 Lake Malawi

Also known as Lake Nyasa, Lake Malawi is the south­ern­most lake in the East African Rift Val­ley sys­tem, locat­ed between Malawi, Mozam­bique and Tan­za­nia. At 706 meters deep, it is the sec­ond deep­est lake in Africa and thanks to its trop­i­cal waters, it is home to more fish species than any oth­er lake on earth. The researchers stud­ied the sed­i­ments of Lake Malawi and found that 100,000 years ago the water lev­el dropped to approx­i­mate­ly the cur­rent lev­el, turn­ing the land around the lake into a semi-desert and arid habi­tat. Accord­ing to some schol­ars, this may be the rea­son why ear­ly man fled Africa to oth­er parts of the world.

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5. Lake San Martin

Locat­ed in Patag­o­nia, the lake is called O’Hig­gins in Chile and San Mar­tin in Argenti­na. It is the deep­est lake in the Amer­i­c­as with a max­i­mum depth of 835 meters (mea­sured at the O’Hig­gins Glac­i­er). The lake is very irreg­u­lar and con­sists of eight well-defined arms with milky blue water per­co­lat­ing through the stony rock. The lake is named after the South Amer­i­can heroes José de San Mar­tin from Argenti­na and Bernar­do O’Hig­gins from Chile, who fought for the lib­er­a­tion of the coun­try.

4. Lake Vostok

Of the 140 sub­glacial lakes on Earth, Vos­tok is the largest and deep­est, with a max­i­mum depth of 899 meters. Locat­ed under the Russ­ian sta­tion Vos­tok, 3962 meters below the sur­face of the cen­tral Antarc­tic ice sheet, is the most unex­plored lake on Earth. British and Russ­ian sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered it only in 1996. The aver­age water tem­per­a­ture in Lake Vos­tok is ‑3 °C. But despite the neg­a­tive tem­per­a­ture, the lake is in a liq­uid state, due to the high pres­sure from the weight of the ice.
The sci­en­tists also found that the icy core could be over 420,000 years old. This means that the lake closed over 500,000 years ago. So far, there is no evi­dence of life in Lake Vos­tok. Despite this, if any species live in the lake, they will most like­ly devel­op traits to sur­vive in the oxy­gen-rich envi­ron­ment of this deep lake.

3. Caspian Sea

Between the south­ern regions of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion and north­ern Iran is the largest closed body of water on Earth. The Caspi­an Sea is a salt water lake (approx­i­mate­ly 1.2% salin­i­ty) that is land­locked due to con­ti­nen­tal drift 5.5 mil­lion years ago. A rem­nant of the ancient Tethys Ocean (just like the Black, or Mediter­ranean Sea), the Caspi­an Sea is the third deep­est lake in the world, at 1,025 meters deep. The fau­na in the Caspi­an basin is very rich: many stur­geons, Caspi­an white fish, Caspi­an roach, Caspi­an bream and many rare species of salmon. The Caspi­an Sea is very rich in ener­gy resources, includ­ing oil and gas deposits dis­cov­ered since the 10th cen­tu­ry.

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2. Tanganyika

Divid­ed between Burun­di, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of the Con­go (45%), Tan­za­nia (41%) and Zam­bia, Tan­ganyi­ka is the deep­est fresh­wa­ter lake in Africa and the sec­ond deep­est in the world with a max­i­mum depth of 1,470 meters. The lake was acci­den­tal­ly dis­cov­ered in 1858 by two British explor­ers, Richard Bur­ton and John Speke, in their search for the source of the Nile. There are numer­ous sto­ries about a cold-blood­ed ser­i­al killer named Gus­tav on the shores of Lake Tan­ganyi­ka. It is a 6 meter long croc­o­dile that weighed 600 kilo­grams and was respon­si­ble for killing hun­dreds of peo­ple.

1. The deepest lake — Baikal

Also known as the “blue eye of Siberia”, Lake Baikal is locat­ed in south­ern Siberia on the Russ­ian-Mon­go­lian bor­der. Known as the deep­est lake in the world with a max­i­mum depth of 1636 meters, Baikal con­tains more water than all the Great Lakes in total. Lake Baikal is a large ecosys­tem, with over 1,700 species of flo­ra and fau­na, two-thirds of which are found only here. Com­plete­ly sur­round­ed by steep moun­tains and dense forests, the lake was formed approx­i­mate­ly 25–30 mil­lion years ago, mak­ing it one of the old­est lakes in geo­log­i­cal his­to­ry. This huge body of water also has its own leg­end: a giant ani­mal, Baikal’s own Loch Ness Mon­ster. No one can say for sure if this sto­ry is true, but the mon­ster of Baikal exists in the minds of peo­ple and haunts their thoughts.