Russian researchers have reached the bottom of Labynkyr, one of the coldest lakes on Earth, popularly known as the Russian Loch Ness for the legend of it being inhabited by a cryptozoological monster. Guinness World Records took note of unique dive.
-71 Celsius (-96 F) is how low temperatures can get in the Siberian village of Oymyakon in Yakutia, home to lake Labynkyr. Located in a ‘Pole of Cold’, one of three places on Earth with the coldest air temperatures, it welcomed the expedition of the Russian Geographical Society with a relatively ‘mild’ -45 C (-49 F).
One of the crew of ten, Viktor Ozarenko, optimistically noted in his FB: “It’s warm in Oymyakon, just -45 C, can’t wait to swim”.
The man who actually carried out the historic plunge was, however, the leader of the group, Dmitry Shiller. The diving pioneer gave his reasons for wanting to go: “By now almost all the land on earth has been studied, but terra firma is only 30% of the planet! I’m sure there are a lot of secrets under water, so that’s where all of the science will go in the near future”.
Labynkyr has long been a research attraction for its anomalies. It freezes much slower than other lakes nearby and it has a huge crack at the bottom, where the lake’s average depth of 52 meters increases to 75-80.
That’s where Dmitry eventually went. Water in the lake was -2 C (28 F), much warmer than -45 C of the air, which was nevertheless little relief to the diver, who also had to carry out some scientific work under water.
Dmitry managed to take footage of the lake bottom, took samples of water, flora and fauna, something no one has ever done there before. Previous attempts to explore Labynkyr were only made with the help of robots or echo sounders.
There’s also a mysterious side to the lake. Popular legend says it’s inhabited by a monster nicknamed ‘the Labynkyr devil’. The 1953 Soviet expedition to Oymyakon contributed to the myth of Nessie’s Russian brother, after Viktor Tverdokhlebov, the head of the Siberia geological unit of the USSR’s Academy of Science, said he saw the creature. He described the episode in his diary: “…There was some kind of an animal….
As it approached, I grew overwhelmed by a strange consternation, freezing me inside. A dark grey oval bulk was seen in the water. On it were two symmetrical white spots, looking like eyes of an animal, and something like a stick poked out of it… Maybe a fin? We only saw a little part of the animal, but could guess a huge solid body under water. No doubt, that was a predator, one of the strongest in the world”.
Researchers of the Russian Geographical Society did not encounter the legendary monster though. But still what they did see was unique, and according to the expedition supervisor Tatiana Nefyodova, the Guinness World Records is interested. Evidence for registering “the first ever winter aqualung dive in a cold pole natural body of water (Oymyakon, Yakutia)” is now being gathered.