Diving in Lake Baikal
by Michael Feierabend
For a first dive in the lake Baikal a favourable place is Listwijanka. Here you can start from the shore and after about 60-80 m of snorkeling in shallow waters the lakes bottom declines in stages.
After acclimatisation in Listvjanka you have the possibility to go to Bolschoi Kotui by hydrofoil. There the water is turquoise and clear with a visibility up to 25 m in June. In a depth of 8-10 m there is a platform with various types of tube-shaped fresh water sponges. In part their ramifications reach up to 1.5 m.
When diving deeper, the bottom plunges down to 25 m. In clear water you will have an amazing view on underwater rock formations. In light-flooded areas the rocks are covered with green lichens. Big piled rocks form a massive slope which is declining steeply. The steepness and the clear water have a magical attraction to make you go deeper.
You can observe snails, larvae of caddis fly and crayfish on moss-covered rocks. When you look closer you may find well-disguised sculpins (cottidae) in different colours.
The deeper you go the bigger the grayfish get. Starting in a depth of 25 m you can find the first gigant species of Gammaridae.
Since the temperature will not be higher than 4°C you will need a dry suit and appropriate equipment.
If required the whole equipment can be rented. You will get modern devises which are especially made for use in cold water.
Other requisites: diving certificate, valid physical examination, health insurance, your own equipment if possible. Visibility varies in summer months. In June, shortly after the ice is gone, you might have a visibility up to 30 m. When solar radiation is increasing more and more algae are forming. In July and August the visibility may decrease to 6-8m.
However, when you decide to go diving in the lake Baikal, you should bring some dive experience in cold waters.
As a matter of principle diving teams will be guided by Russian divers. There are plenty of interesting dive sites between Listwijanka and Olkhon. Local peculiarities are steep inclinations without a visible end, massive rock formations and grottos.
If you have particular questions refering to diving in the lake Baikal you may ask Baikal-specialist and Biologist Igor Hanaew.
Phone in Irkutsk:
- Institute: 007 (0)3952 - 42 26 95
- Mobile phone : 89025698321
A visit to Peter Röpstorf website at the FU-Berlin is recommended if you want to gain more knowledge about the lake's marine wildlife.
If interested in doing a diving tour/trip to the lake Baikal, you may contact the following:
Underwater fotographer Michael Feierabend from Berlin
Or Baikaltours from Goch am Niederrhein (CMAS)
Or Aqua Eco from Irkutsk (CMAS and TDI)