Taking a break from politics to marvel once again at how odd and, quite often, grotesquely wonderful our world is. If you’re ever in Tanzania, you might want to visit Lake Natron. You should resist the urge to go for a swim, however, as the lake’s waters might kill you and, almost literally, turn you to stone:
The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified.
Photographer Nick Brandt, who has a long association with east Africa – he directed the video for Michael Jackson’s Earth Song there in 1995 – took a detour from his usual work when he discovered perfectly preserved birds and bats on the shoreline. “I could not help but photograph them,” he says. “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.”
In fact, I wonder if it wasn’t some ancient site like Lake Natron, with its creepy “statuary,” that gave rise to the myth of the Gorgon. Regardless, this is a place just made for a science fiction or horror tale.