African lake turns animals into statues
Tanzania's Lake Natron calcifies the animals that die in its waters, and Nick Brandt captures them with eerie photographs.
Wed, Oct 02, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Photo: Nick Brandt
The conditions of Lake Natron in northern Tanzania are so harsh that most wildlife knows to avoid it.
The shallow lake can reach temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s so salty that it’s poisonous to most animals.
Despite its deadly characteristics, Lake Natron is the primary breeding ground for lesser flamingos. When salt islands form, the birds nest on them and feed off the algae that grows in its water.
The lake got its name because it contains natron, a naturally occurring compound made mostly of sodium carbonate that comes from volcanic ash from the Great Rift Valley.
Animals that die in its waters are calcified and preserved — essentially turning them into statues.
When photographer Nick Brandt discovered the birds, bats and other animals washed up along the lake’s shoreline, he said he "could not help but photograph them."
"No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, causing them to crash into the lake," he said.
Brandt took the calcified carcasses and positioned them before snapping their photos.
"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," he said. "Reanimated, alive again in death."
Take a look at some of his photos which appear in a book titled "Across the Ravaged Land."
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