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Muddy Hole

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Mysterious Disappearance Of A Russian Lake


By James Donahue


As the story goes, 74-year-old Fyodor Dobryakov walked to White Lake, near the Russian village of Bolotnikovo, early one morning in the early spring to try his hand at fishing. The lake was gone.


In its place was a huge, muddy basin. “It looks like somebody has pulled the plug out of a gigantic bath,” one observer said.


The Los Angeles Times quoted Dobryakov as saying that he was there to see the water flowing into a deep abyss in the middle of the lake. He said trees were falling into the lake and getting sucked into the abyss.


The water drained off so fast the force of it uprooted trees growing close to the water’s edge, villagers said. They said the lake was 16 meters deep and about half a kilometer wide. It was a good place to catch fish.


What happened at Bolotnikovo gained world-wide interest among paranormal buffs because large inland lakes like this one just don’t disappear without some kind of explanation. And other than a possibility that the lake water broke through and drained into some underground hole, or stream, nobody could think of a good reason for it to have happened.


Strange too are the local legends, and the fact that the Russian name for the town, Bolotnikovo, interprets in English as “boggy.”


The stories are told that the lake disappeared like that once before and took some houses with it. It also was said that the lake appeared as mysteriously as it disappeared, swallowing buildings and a church. This happened back during the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible.


The locals say the lake has been somewhat shrouded in mystery because of the stories. It was so deep, people were afraid to swim there.


One writer suggested that the effect of human pumping of underground reservoirs for drinking water and industrial use is causing the reservoirs to get low. White Lake may have drained into an empty reservoir.


Similar activity is happening to inland fresh-water lakes elsewhere in the world, except the water is disappearing at a much slower pace.


For example, the Aral Sea, at the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakstan, once known as the fourth largest inland body of fresh water in the world, is losing water so fast it is now measured as the ninth largest. Scientists say the loss of the water cannot be attributed to global warming. It is draining away, but nobody knows where.


Another disappearing major inland lake is Africa’s Lake Chad. This lake is disappearing but it is directly caused by the desertification of the area. Rainfall has declined in that part of the world during the last fifty years. The lake supplies water to Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.