It might seem unlikely, but the world’s many lakes are in fact some of the most unusual, unexplained and deadly natural phenomena on the planet. From unheard-of natural events to countless human disappearances and even bodies of water which suddenly vanish and reappear again, here are 10 of the most mysterious lakes out there…
10. Dead Lake
This name is enough to tell you that this lake in Kazakhstan is far from your ordinary body of water.
Otherwise known as Lake Kaindy, this 1300 foot-long lake near the southern city of Almaty is steeped in a long history of mystery including human deaths, most of which were unlucky tourist drownings. The corpses which lurk beneath its depths aren’t the only reason for its haunting name and reputation. The waters are also totally incapable of sustaining any life, from small fish to frogs and other native amphibians.
The water – which maintains its vibrant cobalt hue due to the copious limestone deposits and algae at its depths – remains cold even throughout the warmest of seasons and isn’t known to evaporate at a normal rate.
The lake isn’t just a human graveyard, either, because the earthquake which created it in 1911 also submerged the nearby spruce forest in water, drowning the roots but preserving the existing trees which now sprout from all over the surface like ghostly ships masts.
9. Lake Tahoe
This lake in America neighboring Nevada and California might not look particularly threatening. In fact, it’s a hugely popular place for holidaymakers to spend a summer afternoon. But this lake hides some sinister secrets below its surface.
For starters, Lake Tahoe is notorious for its own answer to the Loch Ness monster; an elusive beast uniquely named ‘Tessie’ which reportedly stalks the waters here and has been sighted many times, but never caught on camera – duh.
Tessie might not be the only reason people lost their lives here, though. It was supposedly also a popular dumping ground for mafia victims during the 1920s – a theory which even featured in The Godfather Part ll. Bodies are well-preserved in the near-freezing temperatures at the lakes deepest points, and have been known to turn up years later in the neighboring ‘Pyramid Lake’ which is connected by an underwater tunnel system – such as the tragic discovery of a diver in 2011 who had been missing for 17 years.
French explorer Jacques Cousteau did a deep-water dive in the lake back in the 1970s and returned to the surface claiming that “the world isn’t ready for what was down there” … so I guess we’ll never know what really lurks beneath.
8. Blue Lake
Known as the Blue Lake, this body of water in Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia, leaves more questions than answers.
The water itself doesn’t originate from the ocean or nearby rivers but the world’s biggest system of underground caves.
Plus, it never loses its bright-blue color due to a great amount of lazurite and hydrogen sulfide at the bottom. But the hydrogen sulfide it a charming local name, ‘Tserik-Kel’ or ‘Stinky Lake.’
Besides smelling like rotten eggs, it is also one of the world’s deepest lakes. It has a staggering estimated depth of 846 feet, which is only increasing due to erosion and caves deep below.
But that’s not all! The water reportedly stays at 9.3 degrees throughout all seasons. Besides, it’s so clear that visibility can reach 131 feet.
The lake is still largely unexplored because of its hazardous depths. An Israeli diver who attempted to explore its vastness in 2012 was tragically only recovered a week later. Surprisingly, his scuba diving gear mysteriously still in full operation.
7. Lake Brosno
If Lake Tahoe’s Tessie wasn’t enough, another mysterious sea-monster reportedly lurks beneath the surface of this unsuspecting lake near Moscow, Russia.
The Brosno Dragon or Brosnya is talked about in Russian folklore as inhabiting this lake as early as the 13th century, and many witnesses still claim to have seen the beast with their own eyes.
Of course, there have been attempts to explain all the hysteria using science, which proposes that the creature could just be an unusually large beaver or mutant pike, while a more likely alternatively suggests that hydrogen sulfide bubbling up from below could resemble a dragon head, and might even carry enough force to overturn a small fishing boat.
6. Lost Lake
The ‘Lost Lake’ in Oregon, in the US, has earned its unique name because it is quite literally impossible to locate during the summer months.
What was a standard 85 acre, 9-foot-deep lake for half of the year completely vanishes periodically leaving only a lush green meadow with no traces of its former watery bliss. At first it may seem like the whole thing just evaporates. But that would take some serious heat. Instead, researchers discovered two ‘lava tubes’ behind the lakes’ miraculous disappearing act. The tubes drain the lake as if pulling out a giant bath plug.
Left in the wake of ancient volcanic flows, these holes continually empty the lake of water. In the warm season when the nearby streams which run into it completely dry up. Their draining power is actually enough to swallow up the lake entirely until the next rainy season.
5. Lake Nicaragua
What’s so special about this lake beside it being the largest freshwater lake in Central America?
It isn’t any mysterious chemical qualities or unexplored depths that bring it on this list. Then what? Its unusual inhabitants and I’m not talking about another Nessie spin-off.
Lake Nicaragua is actually the only lake in the world which is home to a native population of sharks – specifically bull sharks – alongside a whole host of other marine species like sawfish and tarpon.
As it is so unusual for sharks to live comfortably in a freshwater environment like this one, scientists trying to get to the bottom of this shark-infested lake originally assumed that the species were introduced by humans, or were different species of shark entirely. This is because – although only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean at some points – the lake doesn’t connect to its surrounding seawater.
Scientists did an experiment by tagging some of the bull sharks in Lake Nicaragua. They were later found in the Caribbean Ocean eventually. So, it was clear that the sharks made the 120-mile trip through the nearby San Juan River to reach the lake.
4. Jellyfish Lake
If a shark-infested lake wasn’t enough to prove that some places just aren’t worth a risky dip then take a look at Pulau’s ‘Jellyfish Lake’, which – as its name suggests – is home to a whopping population of over a million of these little stingers.
Surprisingly, the world-renowned jellyfish lake is a popular destination. Hundreds of tourists are brave enough to enter the water every year to swim alongside these fascinating creatures. Thankfully, the various species in this lake including the Golden Jellyfish and the Moon Jellyfish don’t have strong enough stinging cells to seriously harm a human, so swimming is permitted – but special care and a $100 pass is still required.
In 1998, though, there was a mysterious decline in jellyfish in the lake. By the end of that year, the ‘medusa’ species had completely vanished altogether. Baffled scientists were eventually able to identify this rapid decline as a direct result of the El Niño weather event which dramatically raised the water’s temperature, but in the years since a healthy annual increase in the jellyfish population has been identified under moderate weather conditions.
3. Katwe Explosion Crater
‘Explosion crater lakes’ – which sound pretty damn terrifying to me – are located all over Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda, the biggest and baddest of which can be found within an area known as the ‘Katwe explosion crater’ just north of the Mweya Peninsular.
Acting as the number one salt distributor in Uganda, this horrifying looking lake is 3,265-foot-deep and is unable to support any animal or plant life due to its incredibly high salt contents.
The name explosion crater lakes itself originates from a long history of volcanic eruptions dating back between 8 and 10,000 years ago which caused huge damage when the craters spewed fire and brimstone into neighboring areas.
Although dormant for many years now, Lake Katwe and other explosion crater lakes still contain sulfuric residue and often emit gas clouds from their surface, and it is possible that the waters unusually dark appearance is a result of the way the craters would discharge ash and rock during their most active periods.
It goes without saying that there is no permission to swim in this lake. But the Katwe Explosion crater tour is still a hugely popular safari destination. Tourists can get a glimpse of the native flamingo, monkey and even elephant populations.
2. Lake Berryessa
Lake Berryessa reservoir – located 75 miles north of San Francisco – was a pretty unremarkable lake up until 2017 when a 72-foot-wide hole seemingly opened up out of nowhere, dramatically sucking in the contents of the surrounding lake with surprising power.
Word of this giant unexplained potential sinkhole began to spread. Then, locals rushed to the site of the reservoir to look on in horror at this bizarre phenomenon. While many worried about the origins of this huge inverted fountain and what potential seismic activity below the surface could have caused it to open up, it turned out the huge hole is actually just a manmade ‘glory hole’ designed to drain the reservoir and keep it from overflowing, while also acting as a slipway to the nearby dam.
The reason behind its sudden appearance was actually a result of a huge amount of rainfall. Before that, a long ten-year period of drought rendered the glory hole useless up until 2017. In fact, images that show the lake during this long dry spell clearly show the huge hole. It just wasn’t quite as noticeable until turning into a lake-guzzling vortex.
1. Lac de Gafsa
So, the great Berryessa super hole might’ve had a pretty logical explanation, but no one was quite prepared for the miraculous overnight arrival of this lake in the scorching hot deserts of Tunisia when it hit the headlines back in August 2014.
A local man claimed to have first spotted the lake in the desert canyon 25 kilometers from the city of Gafsa on his way back from the north of the country and thought that he must have been hallucinating as a lake this size is unheard of in the 40-degree desert. Soon, hundreds were heading to the lake – now named Lac de Gafsa – to see if this miracle lake was truly a mistaken mirage after all.
Although many jumped straight into the water and lounged around at its beach-like shores, warnings soon came in that the water could have contamination from carcinogenic chemicals, or even large deposits of phosphate which would leave behind a radioactive residue in its wake. The vast turquoise expanse quickly turned a sludgy green due a sudden build-up of algae in the lake, proving that there were no natural means of replenishment and thus rendering its waters highly conductive to disease.
Scientists have since concluded that the lake was the result of seismic activity. It disrupted the underground water table and filled the expanse above with liquid. If these large cracks did exist, they might also possess the ability to suck people under. So, perhaps this ‘miracle lake’ was more of a curse after all.
Did you know that any of these mysterious lakes existed? And would you be willing to visit any of them in the future? Let me know down in the comments below.