When photographer Nick Brandt found dead animals washed up on the shore of Tanzania’s Lake Natron, fully calcified into statues, he posed them for his new photo book, Across the Ravaged Land, and the results are eerily stunning.
Some of the pictures from the book are displayed below.
“No one knows for certain exactly how [these animals] die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, causing them to crash into the lake,” Brandt, who photographed these calcified animals in 2010 and 2012, writes in his book. “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.”
Since these calcified statues were “rock hard”, the photographer couldn’t move any parts of the animals for better poses other than just placing them on branches and rocks for the photographs.
Lake Natron is inhospitable to life. Nothing can live in the lake other than certain kinds of algae and bacteria. According to National Geographic, Lake Natron’s unusually harsh composition comes from a unique neighboring volcano, Ol Doinyo, which spews alkali-rich natrocarbonatites that end up in it via rainwater runoff.
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