Lake Baikal, formed 25 million years ago, provides a haven for 1,200 animal species, 600 types of plants, and the world’s only freshwater seals.
Of these plants and animals, 75 percent are found only in the Lake Baikal region, making its preservation crucial.
Some of Baikal’s fish can survive more than one mile beneath the surface, despite the incredible water pressure at that depth.
They are so well-adapted to these pressures that they will literally explode if brought to the surface, where the pressure is dramatically different.
Out of all the animals living in the Lake Baikal, the most interesting are the fresh water seals.
Scientists still have not determined how the seals got to Lake Baikal, although it is supposed that they travelled here in prehistoric times from the Arctic through a river.
The nerpas – how they are often called – differ in many aspects from the Arctic seals as they have adapted to the Baikal climate.
For example they have more blood, which makes it possible to them to swim for more than 70 minutes. They can also travel at great depths, sometimes reaching depths of 300 meters under the surface.
One of the most bizarre fish that lives in Lake Baikal is the golomyanka (oil-fish). The golomyanka has no scale and a translucent body. It can swim at depths of more than 1000 metres.
The omul is the most popular fish in Lake Baikal and you will find it in most tourist towns as it is the main food supply of the locals.