One fifth of all fresh water in the world is located in just one lake; Lake Baikal. in southern Siberia in Russia. It’s situated between the Irkutsk Oblast region to the north-west and Buryatia to the south-east. The lake is relatively small as compared to others and given the fact how much water it holds. It’s the 9th largest in the world. It has an average of 635 km. (395 mi.) in length and 50 km. (31 mi.) width, but it’s extremely deep.
It reaches a maximum depth of 1640 meters (one mile) and it holds 23,000 cubic km. (14300 cubic miles) more water than all Great Lakes combined. Lake Baikal is also very old. Similar to Lake Tanganyika in Africa, it formed some 25 million years ago after a rift in the Earth’s crust was created. The many hot springs around indicate the fact that the region is still geologically active. Seismologists record around 2000 earthquakes in the area.
During winter, the surface is frozen over and the locals drill holes into the ice in order to fish. In places where the ice formed in calm conditions, you are able to see the fish swimming underneath, through the entire thickness of the ice. Even though the ice is very thick, daily temperature fluctuations allow for complex designs to be formed with crevasses up to a meter (3 feet) deep.
After the ice melts, Lake Baikal is so clear that it permits a visibility of up to 40 meters (130 ft.) or more. It is the only closed off basin of fresh water in the world where gas hydrates have been found.
Many of the species living here are endemic to the lake, like the Baikal seal or the Golomyanka fish, which is the only fish in the world which gives birth to live babies. They can support water depths of up to 1400 meters (4600 ft.), which is so deep that no canon can ever fire because of the immense pressure.