Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 00:00
Lake Natron in northern Tanzania is a death trap for birds and other winged-mammals foolish enough to plunge into its sinister waters. Like something out of a Tim Burton movie, except that this is real, the creepy lake turns unsuspecting winged creatures to stone when they touch the water.
Before you call bullshit, there is a scientific explanation to the Medusa effect of these poor, unfortunate animals. Volcanic ash from the nearby Great Rift Valley contaminated Lake Natron with sodium carbonate and baking soda. The only thing that can survive in its waters is the alkaline tilapia, an extremophile fish. Animals face imminent doom if they were to take a swim in the lake. They would gradually feel their bodies begin to calcify and harden until they are rock solid, and of course, dead.
As if the lake has a mind of its own and devised a sure-fire way to delude more animals into sending themselves to their own demise, the combination of the chemicals in the water make the lake extremely reflective, and birds would be tricked into flying into the water thinking that it was still sky.
The lake has a pH as high as 10.5 which can burn skin and eyes upon contact. While the animals in the photographs look as though they were immediately turned to stone, it was not the case. The photographer, Nick Brandt, picked up the dead animals from the lake's shore and arranged them accordingly for the photoshoot.
“When I saw those creatures for the first time alongside the lake, I was completely blown away,” says Brandt. “The idea for me, instantly, was to take portraits of them as if they were alive.”
“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.”
You got to admit though, that the ghoulish effect the lake has on these animals makes for some very fascinatingly morbid imagery. Just think, if there are so many of these macabre statues on land, there must be hundreds of thousands of them lurking underneath the waters, never to be discovered.