Imagine swimming in a deep lake and peering down, wondering how many feet you’d have to go until you hit bottom. It’s especially frightening when
Exactly what lurks in that darkness, and just how deep does it go? Would you risk swimming in the deepest lakes? Here’s a list of the 10 deepest lakes in the world as well as some of the legends that go with them.
10. Lake Matano, Indonesia
Lake Matano, at a maximum depth of 1,936 feet, is Indonesia’s deepest lake. Lake Matano is located in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi region. The Patea River flows into it.
Lake lovers tout Lake Matano as having some of the clearest water around. It’s estimated to be between hundreds of years old and contains fish and plants that are unique, including 30 types of fish. While popular with swimmers and scuba divers, it’s about a 12-hour car ride from the nearest city.
9. Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake, one of the deepest lakes in the world and the deepest in the United States, is located in Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. The lake formed between hundred of years ago as a caldera, a cauldron-like hole caused when the Mount Mazama volcano erupted and its magma chamber erupted. All of the water in the lake, recorded at a maximum depth of 1,996 feet, comes from snow and rainfall.
8. Great Slave Lake, Canada
Great Slave Lake, located in the Northwest Territories, lies claim to being North America’s deepest lake at 2,010 feet. The lake remains frozen from late fall through early summer. Yellowstone, the capital of the Northwest Territories, lies on its shore.
Explorer Samuel Hearne named the lake after the Slavey Indians also known as the Dene who lived in the Canadian subarctic. The Dene spoke of a strange creature lurking in the waters, and there are modern legends of people seeing a large hump submerge into the lake. One such legend claims it has the body of an alligator and head of a pike. Another person, a Roman Catholic priest, claimed it had a dragon’s head.
7. Issyk Kul Lake, Republic of Kyrgyzstan
Central Asia’s Issyk Kulis Lake, the second largest alpine lake, a term that describes high-altitude lakes 5,000 feet or above sea level. The lake has a maximum depth of 2,192 feet.
The lake never freezes, resulting in its name Issyk, meaning “hot lake” in the Kyrgyz language. Like many of the world’s deepest lakes, Issyk Kul has its legends. One states a civilization once thrived in the area until an earthquake swallowed the people and buildings, leaving a depression that filled with water.
6. Lake Malawi, Africa
Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, is Africa’s second deepest lake at 2,316 feet. More than 460 species of fish, including many endemic to that specific lake, live in it. The bordering African countries of Malawi and Tanzania disputed ownership of the lake after discovering it could be a profitable source of oil and gas.
5. Lake O’Higgins/San Martin, between Chile and Argentina
Called Lake O’Higgins in Chile and Lake San Martin in Argentina, the lake is the deepest lake in the Americas with a depth of 2,743 feet. It’s the deepest known accessible glacial lake in the world and is largely inaccessible, surrounded by the Andes Mountains to the east and the Southern Ice Cap to the west. The lake is named after Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile, who fought together to liberate Chile.
4. Lake Vostok, Antarctica
Lake Vostok lies beneath Russia’s Vostok Station, more than two miles under the surface of the central Antarctic ice sheet. The sub-glacial lake has been cut off from light and the atmosphere for who knows how long. Researchers believe its temperature remains about 27 degrees Fahrenheit because of geothermal heat, keeping it from freezing. Its water supply comes from water melting from the overhead ice sheet. The lake, which reaches a depth of 2,625 feet, wasn’t discovered until 1996. Scientists are still studying whether the lake sustains life but researchers claim they found 3,507 gene sequences, including 1,623 that matches sequences from other organisms, in Lake Vostok.
3. The Caspian Sea
Western Asia’s Caspian Sea is one of the world’s deepest lakes and its largest lake. Its maximum depth is 3,363 feet and its surface area is 143,244 square miles. Once thought to be part of the ancient Paratethys Sea, connected to the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans, it became landlocked when the Earth’s crust shifted then temporarily reconnected to the ocean. Ninety percent of the world’s sturgeon including the beluga prized by caviar lovers comes from the Caspian Sea.
Ancient Assyrians believed the sun rose and set from the Caspian Sea. Legends also tell of a creature that Iranians call Runan-shah, “master of the sea and rivers.” People claiming to have spotted it describe it as an amphibious creature that seems to resemble a human.
2. Lake Tanganyika, Central Africa
Lake Tanganyika lies between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Zambia. It lies claim to being the deepest freshwater lake in Africa the second deepest lake in the world with a maximum depth of 4,823 feet. More than 2,000 plant and animal species, including about 600 found nowhere else, live in the lake. Gustave, a legendary man-eating Nile crocodile about 20 feet long, is said to live in Lake Tanganyika and be responsible for killing hundreds of villagers.
1. Lake Baikal, Southern Russia
Lake Baikal is both the world’s deepest lake and its largest freshwater lake. Its maximum depth is 5,314 feet. More than 1,700 species of animals and plants live in the lake, and about two-thirds of them can only be found in Lake Baikal.
The Southern Siberia lake is believed to hundred of years old, making it one of the world’s oldest. Myths surrounding the lake include that of water dragons or dragon fish living in the lake.
Scientists say the lake, located in an active continental rift zone, could get deeper.