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.
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.
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.
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.
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.