Located in Southeastern Siberia in the Irkutsk region, Lake Baikal's ancient waters still provide sanctuary for both fish and men. But it must seem that humans have the upper hand since it is only they who can appreciate its' immense beauty.
Lake Baikal is the oldest lake in the world ? an estimated 25-30 million years old. It has approximately 2100 meters of coastline and the water it holds makes up 20% of the fresh surface water in the world. The lake is so big that it even has a few islands in it. Lake Baikal is fed by over three hundred rivers and streams and yet water only leaves in through one river ? the Angara River.
One of the remarkable things about the lake is its clarity. One can see up to a depth of 40 to 50 meters ? but they do still not see the lake floor since it has a depth of 630 meters. When winter comes, the entire lake freezes over, but when the lake is not frozen, strong winds can whip up waves that are an enormous four to six meters high. Deeper down, the lake gets oxygenated by the thermal springs on the lake floor.
The area surrounding the Lake is also pristine. Much of it is made up of taiga, rock or the Barguzin mountain range. This means that it is a wonderful habitat for animals. The taiga surrounding the lake is home to 2500 animal species. There are also hundreds of bird species in the area. Lake Baikal itself has some 1200 animal species and 1000 plant species. The freshwater seal or nerpa (Phoca Siberica), is a very unique animal. It is also the only mammal which inhabits Lake Baikal. The zooplankton (epishura) and crustaceans are responsible for the clarity of the water as they feed on waterweeds and bacteria which usually make it more murky.