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Lake Baikal

The deepest lake in the world is located in the south-east of Sibiria. The largest part is in the autonomous region of Buryatia. This natural water reserve is among the five biggest world wide, the surface amonts to 31,500 km2 ( 363km long and 48 wide). The deepest point in the lake is 1,637 m. In winter the surface is frozen for about 5 months a year (January to May). From north to south there are little villages inhabited by Buryats. During the Soviet times the economic activities were mainly focussed on wood and fishing, at the time the area was rich. After the demise of the Soviet Union the wood and fishing industries were destroyed. Therefore the villages were forced to work together in order to survive. People live in very difficult conditions, what they earn is just enough to survive.

A day of a fisherman at the Lake Baikal
4 am – the direction is described as 109 degree longitude et 54 degree latitude. The Lake still sleeps when the fishermen prepare temselves to face the Sibirian wind which ripples the surface of the water. The boots and jackets find their owners. The tea mugs echo the silence of the atmosphere in the refuge. The team hurries towards the boat, which only has one shelter – the cabin of the captain. Hurled together due to the cold the fishermen begin a long way on the currents of Lake Baikal. As soon as the first rays of the sun appear the smoke of the motors become visible. The old boat has a lot of difficulties and finds it hard to pull the material that is needed for the job. After two hours of chaotic sailing the sun makes the shilouettes of the fishermen appear. As soon as they arrive at the point of Kovrijka one can clearly see the tired faces with little eyes watching the horizon. They are like vanes in the middle of the sea. Their expression is determined and the silence is only broken when an experienced fisherman decides where to fish. In groups of three they go on the small boats while the motor slows down and the fisherman throw out 100m of net into the water. The trap for the fish in form of a bow, is closed while those who wait at the lakeside prepare the camp. The Buryats wind up hundreds of meters of the rope in order to pull the net on land. The fishermen change every 20 minutes between the fire of the camp to the hard work on the edge of the Lake. Warming their hands around the fireplace, more and more fishermen join to discuss and eat the « omul », « sig » or other fish they catch. The talks focus on better times in the past. The silence is broken when the capitain reminds everybody to return to work. He is the first one to touch the icy water and pull out the net. An exhausted look of his men is a reminder of how hard they earn their living from the Lake.