May 17, 2015
Lake Ohrid was my first stop after crossing the border from Albania to Macedonia. *
Here are a few facts about this unusual lake:
Lake Ohrid straddles the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania. It is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes, preserving a unique aquatic ecosystem that is of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species.
Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake of the Balkans, with a maximum depth of 288m (940 ft) and a mean depth of 155m (508 ft). It covers an area of 358km² (138 mi²), containing an estimated 55.4 km³ (13.3 mi³) of water.
Lake Ohrid originated from a geotectonic depression during the Pliocene epoch up to five million years ago.
There are only a few lakes with similarly remote origins with Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika being the most famous.
Both in terms of nutrient concentration as well as biological parameters, Lake Ohrid qualifies as oligotrophic. Thanks to this oligotrophy and the filtered spring inflows, the water is exceptionally clear with transparencies to a depth of as much as 22m or 72 ft.
While Lake Ohrid is special as such, by far the most spectacular quality is its impressive endemism. Similar to Lake Baikal and Lake Tanganyika, Lake Ohrid harbors endemic species covering the whole food-chain, from photo plankton and sessile algae to predatory fish (two trout species)and finally a diverse endemic bottom fauna (176 species) with particularly large endemism among crustacean, mollusks, sponges and planarians (worms).
The lakeshore reed beds and wetlands provide critical habitat for hundreds of thousands of wintering water birds, including rare and threatened species such as the Dalmatian pelican, ferruginous duck, swan, spotted eagle and eastern imperial eagle.
Lake Ohrid is also the namesake of Ohrid Lacus, a hydrocarbon lake on Titan, a moon of Saturn.
Lake Ohrid is an ideal place for geologists, hydrologists, ichthyologists, and for fisherman, birdwatchers and boaters.
And for guys like me who wake up early for a photo shoot. And who, after a copiotrophic (think "copious") breakfast, love to hike up the hills of an old town to discover the ancient sites.
Oh, did I mention that Lake Ohrid is one heck of beautiful place that is a favorite holiday spot for indigenus Macedonians and for invasive folks from the Balkans and Europe? Who can resist clear waters and grilled trout?