How the world's deepest lake and chilly weather created a can't-miss musical performance.
Tucked away in the mountainous region of Siberia is Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.
The water is regarded as some of the most pristine on Earth, crisp and clear. On a good day, you can see more than 120 feet into the water. That's like peering from the roof of a 12-story building.
But this prehistoric lake, which is 20-25 million years old, is more than 5,300 feet deep at its deepest point. Don't drop your goggles.
While many journey to Baikal to take in the majestic landscape, some make the trip for a very different reason: the music.
After his wife slipped and fell on the ice on Lake Baikal, percussionist Sergei Purtyan asked her to re-create the delightful hollow boom that her fall made. They laughed but discovered the ice had a remarkable tone to it.
They recorded it on their phones and brought it back home to Irkutsk, where Sergei invited percussion group Ethnobeat to return to the spot for a purposeful performance.
Like the lake itself, the tones are deep and clear, resonating with each thud, slap, and smash.
Ethnobeat held their ice jam session for hours in sub-zero temperatures, experimenting with different techniques and methods to create unique sounds.
Oddly enough, many of the tones seem to work in harmony, as if arranged on a keyboard or xylophone.
"All we had to do was to discover that place, get there, and start playing," Natalya Vlasevskaya, one of the members of Etnobit, told The Siberian Times. "Everything else was ready, arranged for the most perfect harmonious sound — as if by some magical conductor."
Lake Baikal stands alone as a freshwater treasure — at least, for now.
Baikal contains 20% of the Earth's freshwater. More than 1,500 animals species live in and around the massive lake, and 80% of those animals aren't found anywhere else.
That's why it was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
But like many of Earth's natural wonders, Lake Baikal is under siege from industrial and human threats.
Despite UNESCO protections, in 2006, a potential oil pipeline to Asia threatened the pristine waters and put the ecosystem and animals at risk. Thankfully, after extensive protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin diverted the line.
However, barely four years later, Putin allowed a large, rundown paper mill to resume operations near the lake. The outdated factory dumps waste into Baikal, but Putin gave it three years to clean up its act (or, three years to dump pollutants into the lake without consequence).
Just last fall, National Geographic reported multiple cases of green slime disrupting the lake's ecosystem. Though scientists have yet to confirm a cause, they suspect nutrients are flowing into the water from fertilizer or human waste.
Baikal can remain of the world's most majestic, isolated, beautiful places, but only if we protect it.
Surrounded by lush hiking paths, home to thousands of animals and native plants, and a major source of freshwater, Lake Baikal is a place we can't afford to lose. Whether they're close by or a world away, we all need to speak up and protect these natural wonders.
If not for the plants and animals that call it home, do it for the beautiful music. Because there's truly nothing else like it on Earth.