Lake Baikal , the deepest and the oldest lake in the world is located in Siberia , Russia . As the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of 744.4 m (2,442 ft), Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world’s surface fresh water.
Lake Baikal is also known as the “Blue Eye of Siberia“. The 3.15 million ha Lake Baikal contains more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined. At 1,637 meters (5,371 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world, and the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume. However, Lake Baikal contains less than one third the amount of water as the Caspian Sea which is the largest lake in the world.
Lake Baikal was formed in an ancient rift valley with a surface area (31,500 km²) slightly less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria. Clay samples taken in 1990 show that Lake Baikal is at least 30 million years old, making it the world’s oldest lake, while few lakes in the world are more than a mere 30,000 years.
Baikal , the deepest lake in the world
Lake Baikal is almost 700 kilometers from end to end and its shoreline extends 2,000 kilometers. At its deepest Lake Baikal reaches 1,637 meters in depth and holds 23,000 cubic kilometers of water. By comparison, the largest of the Great Lakes in the US and Canada, Lake Superior, holds only half that amount.
Known as the ‘Galapagos of Russia‘, its age and isolation have produced one of the world’s richest and most unusual freshwater faunas, which is of exceptional value to evolutionary science. Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Few other lakes can equal the extent of biodiversity present in Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal hosts 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals. More than 80% of the animals are endemic , found no where else on earth.. Epischura baikalensis is endemic to Lake Baikal and the dominating zooplankton species there, making up 80 to 90 percent of total biomass. The Baikal Seal or nerpa (Phoca sibirica) is found throughout Lake Baikal. It is one of only three entirely freshwater seal populations in the world, the other two being subspecies of Ringed Seal. Perhaps the most important local species is the omul (Coregonus autumnalis migratorius), a smallish endemic salmonid . Some of the plants and animals can be dated to prehistoric times. There is the danger that its unique ecosystem properties could be lost but serious steps are being taken to address these issues with strong support from Russian government .
Also called “the Pearl of Siberia“, the lake is like a magnet to investors from the tourism industry. Viktor Grigorov’s Grand Baikal in Irkutsk is one of the investors, who planned to build three hotels creating 570 jobs. In 2007, the Russian government declared the Baikal region a special economic zone. The popular resort of Listvyanka is home to the seven-story Hotel Mayak. At the northern part of the lake Baikal there is Frolikha Adventure Coastline Track , a 100 km long Long-distance trail as example for a sustainable development of the region. Rosatom plans to build a laboratory in Baikal, in conjunction with an international uranium plant and to invest $2.5 bn in the region and create 2,000 jobs in the city of Angarsk.