The huge and relatively isolated lake is exceptionally biodiverse, with more than 700 endemic species of animals, including the world's only true freshwater seal. Its flora and fauna are of special interest to evolutionary scientists hoping to study how life adapts to a specific location over time. Because of its specialized wildlife, Lake Baikal is also called the Galápagos of Russia.
Photographer Kristina Makeeva visited the lake in early 2017 and took these breathtaking photos from on top of the frozen water. "Ice is cracking all the time," she writes on Bored Panda. "When the frost is very heavy, cracks divide ice on different areas. The length of these cracks is 6-8 miles (10-30 kilometers), and the width is 1-2 feet (2-3 meters). Cracks happen every year, approximately at the same areas of the lake. They are followed by a loud crack that is reminiscent of thunder or a gun shot. Thanks to the cracks, the fish in the lake don't die from the lack of oxygen. Generally, the ice of Baikal carries a lot of enigmas, the majority of formations provokes the interest of scientists."