July 30, 2008

Submarines Explore Lake Baikal

Two Russian mini-submarines explored the depths of Siberia's Lake Baikal -- the world's deepest lake -- this week, scientists said.

Mir 1 and Mir 2 reached depths of 5,184 feet and 5,223 feet, respectively, the Guardian reported Tuesday. The Russians initially said they had gone down 5,512 feet but issued a correction later, the British newspaper said.

Back in the 1990s, another research expedition had measured its descent at 5,371 feet.

We have gone to the depths of Lake Baikal to find out what the lake is, Dr. Yulduz Khliullin, an assistant director of Moscow's Institute of Oceanography, told the Guardian. "We are interested in its chemistry and biology.

The dive is certainly also a kind of advertisement for the Russian government and for our science. We are trying also to draw attention to the lake and the need to preserve it.

Khliullin said he didn't think the researchers would find anything extraordinary in the way of new species but added there are indications we may find hydrogen gas.