Nick Brandt’s Across the Ravaged Land

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

By      Ashley Feinberg

There’s a deceptively still body of water in Tanzania with a deadly secret—it turns any animal it touches to stone. The rare phenomenon is caused by the chemical makeup of the lake, but the petrified creatures it leaves behind are straight out of a horror film.

Photographed by Nick Brandt in his new book, Across the Ravaged Land, petrified creatures pepper the area around the lake due to its constant pH of 9 to 10.5—an extremely basic alkalinity that preserves these creatures for eternity. According to Brandt:

I unexpectedly found the creatures – all manner of birds and bats – washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. No-one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake. The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.

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.

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

Any Animal That Touches This Lethal Lake Turns to Stone

All images via © Nick Brandt 2013 Courtesy of Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, NY

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