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Lake Baikal, Russia

We dived around Lake Baikal as part of the Expedition Sacred Sea, the purpose of it was to collect water and sediments to measure the microplastic contents in them. We, therefore, were diving in unknown sites with a specific purpose. Often we ended up diving where there wasn't much. In general at depths greater than 15m there was more life and more sponges.  

​These are all the sites we dives:

  1. Listvyanka

  2. Sennaya Valley

  3. Bolshie Koty

  4. Bolshoie Galausnoie

  5. Shamanka Rock

  6. East Olkhon Island

  7. Anyutka Bay

  8. Cape Pokoynik

  9. North Kedrovy Cape

  10. Cape Elohin

  11. Baikalskaya

  12. Ayaya Bay

  13. Lokhmati Island

  14. Bolshoi Ushkani Island

  15. Tonky Island

  16. Ushkani Islands

  17. Sveti Nos

  18. Baikalsk

Below is a detailed description of the most interesting ones

Dive Sites

 

 

 

 

Listvyanka 

Diving Conditions:  

Location: in front of Dive Club SVAL, ul. Gorkogo 39

GPS coordinates: 51∞ 51.821′ N, 104∞50.363′E

Shore dive 

Depth: 80-100m 

Type of bottom: rocky, wall

Interests: wall dive, macro life, some sponges 

 

Description:  

The dive site is right across the house of the Dive Club Sval at the main in Listvyanka following the shore of the lake. Members of the club dive here regularly every Saturday. In summer there is lot of surface boat/scooter traffic so surface buoy marker is advisable when diving here. 

 

You swim out of the shore following a shallow shelf (depth 5-6m) for about 100m to the drop off (sval in Russian, hence the name of the club). The wall goes to depths up to 80-100m, we dived to 30m. If  you follow the wall to the right its more vertical and you will find more of the Baikal sponges. There is a little cavern at 25m with a metal trolley inside. If you follow the wall to the left the slope is more gentle with ledges and canyons with less sponges but more of aquatic plants. 

You can also spot lot of Gammaruses, Baikal endemic freshwater shrimp. 

 

Water is generally very clear, visibility at the end of June was about 20m. The temperatures were 6C at surface dropping to 4C at depth. 

 

Listvyanka is only 70km from Irkutsk, which makes it easily accessible for tourists. There are lot of hotels and restaurants near the shore. The increased human activity has also negative side effects, including higher amounts if trash and overgrowth of green algae in the water. The shallow shelf is covered in very thick layer of Spirogyra masses, which Russian divers refer to also as swimming in green “compot”. 

 
 

Bolshie Koty

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Sennaya valley 

GPS coordinates: 51∞ 53.996′ N, 105∞07.461′E

Shore dive 

Depth: 60-70m 

Type of bottom:  sandy canyon, rocky walls

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

This is a very scenic dive with lots of Baikal sponges. Close to the shore it starts with a shallow shelf (2m) with algae. It then gently drops off and forms a sandy canyon that runs into 60-70m.  Bottom of the canyon is mostly sandy but descending below 6m the sides are rocky walls covered in sponges. We stayed in depths up to 16m where we could observe most of the sponges. 

 

 

Shamanka Rock

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Cape Burkhan, Olkhon Islan 

GPS coordinates: 53°12'13.9"N 107°20'17.4"E

Boat dive

Depth: 5-6m 

Type of bottom:  sandy 

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

Flat bottom at 6m. A lot of gobies but most dead and being eaten by gastropods. A few sponges in good health. Not a dive of great interest.

 

Anjutka

Diving Conditions:  

Location: North of Cape Ryity

GPS coordinates: 53°52.589N 107°07.501E

Shore dive

Depth: 15-20m 

Type of bottom:  sandy 

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

Pebble beach from the surface to about 5m where it then turns to a gentle sandy slope with a lot of algae. Some sponges with necrosis. 

 

 
 

Siggi V

Cape Pokoynik 

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Southern part of Cape Pokoynik 

GPS coordinates: 54°00.792 108°14.455

Boat dive

Depth: 15-20m 

Type of bottom:  sandy 

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

The dive is about 100m from the shore. There are lots of sponges between 13-17m, most of them with signs of necrosis. Numerous shrimp. Not a lot of life below 17m. 

 

North Kedroviy Cape

Diving Conditions:

North Kedroviy Cape

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Northern part of the cape 

GPS coordinates: 54°28.161 108°33.766

Shore dive

Depth: 15-20m 

Type of bottom:  Rocky bottom  

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

Rocky steep slope with lots of sponges between 12-16m. Rather large and very branched. At bout 5m depth there are the more flat type of sponges covering rocks.

 

Ayaya Bay

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Northern part of the cape North side of the bay

GPS coordinates: 55°27.363 109°53.718

Boat dive

Depth: 10-15m 

Type of bottom:  Sandy slope  

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

The dive is about 200m from the sandy beach. In front of the boulders. The dive is along a steep sandy slope with big boulders up to about 7m. Not much life just some small fish, snails and flat sponges. 

 

Lokhmatiy Island

Diving Conditions:  

Location: North side of Chivirkuy Bay

GPS coordinates: 53°49.058 109°05.131

Boat dive, some current can occur. 

Depth: 10-15m 

Type of bottom:  Rocky

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

Very pretty landscape with lots of boulders slowly sloping. There were lots of sponges. 

 

Ushkany Island

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Southern tip of one of the islands

GPS coordinates: 53°50.617 108°41.292

Boat dive 

Depth: 10-15m 

Type of bottom:  Rocky

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

Very nice dive with an interesting landscape. There is a drop off with a very steep wall and boulders, the rocks become populated with tall and branching sponges below 10m. Seals can be seen on the surface but they are shy to play with divers. 

 

Sveti Nos

 

Diving Conditions:  

Location: Bay to the South of the tip

GPS coordinates: 53°30.118 108°32.567

Shore dive 

Depth: 10-20m 

Type of bottom:  Rocky

Interests: sponges

 

Description:  

The dive site goes deep quite quickly with boulders to about 15-20m then it is a sandy slope. From about 7m there are sponges, some even more than 1m tall.  

 

Logistics

 

Diving:

We strongly recommend Sval Diver Center, a dive club which also has equipment for technical diving so can mix gasses. They have an office in Irkutsk but their club house is in Listvyanka, so you can dive straight out of there. It is even equipped with a bania (sauna). They supported our expedition by lending us their tanks, weights and a portable compressor. They speak some English.

 

Ulitsa Dekabr'skikh Sobytiy, 55, Irkutsk

Tel. +7 395 229-50-51

email: info@svaldiving.ru

www.facebook.com/SVALdiving

Some areas away from towns are national parks so you need special permits to access them. Also, if you are camping along the shore especially in remote areas beware of bears.