Treacherous Lake Turns Any Animal That Touches It into Stone

lake natron

Lake Natron is a salt lake found in northern Tanzania, near the Kenyan border over at the eastern branch of the East African Rift. The lake gets its life from the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River as well as mineral-rich hot springs. These waters are believed to be treacherous, capable of turning any animal it touches to stone. This uncommon phenomenon is said to be caused by the chemical composition of the lake.

across the ravaged land animal portrait

At less than three meters deep, it is relatively shallow, and changes in width depending on its water level. The levels change mostly because of high levels of evaporation, leaving a mixture of salts and minerals called natron behind. The nearby country around it is dry and gets irregular, seasonal rainfall.

bird turned to stone lake natron

The lake is situated within the Lake Natron Basin Wetlands of the International Importance Ramsar Site. Temperatures in the lake can go up to 60°, and the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 or almost as alkaline as ammonia, depending on the amount of rainfall.

bird lake natron

The hardened, petrified animals it leaves behind are just utterly terrifying in appearance. Nick Brandt photographed these frozen creatures in his new book entitled Across the Ravaged Land. The still, lifeless creatures can be found interspersed around the lake area. What is believed to be the culprit is the constant pH of 9 to 10.5 which is considered extremely alkaline, and can preserve living tissue for a long, long time.

across the ravaged land

Brandt had this to say of the eerie lake,

“I unexpectedly found the creatures – all manner of birds and bats – washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. No-one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake. The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.

I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life’, as it were. Reanimated, alive again in death.”

lake natron bird

See the haunting images in his book, which can be purchased thru Brandt’s website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.