It is captivatingly beautiful and those seeking to grasp the fleeting fame that Instagram can bring are flocking to the turquoise lake like bees to honey.
From women posing in bikinis to newlyweds dancing on the lake’s dirt banks and even visitors riding inflatable unicorns, the backdrop for the photos is literally to die for.
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But it’s not worth trying to show you are better than everyone else as the turquoise lake in Siberia, named on Instagram as the Novosibirsk Maldives, is actually an ash dump full of harmful metal oxides.
It is not a lake at all, merely the result of calcium salts and other metal oxides from the nearby thermal power station, which provides energy to the city of Novosibirsk.
The rash of Instagrammers flocking to the lake has promoted the Siberian Generating Company to warn that the chemicals inside the lake may cause allergic skin reactions and to avoid swimming at all costs.
“In the last week, our ash dump of the Novosibirsk TEZ-5 has become the star of social networks,” it said.
“But you CANNOT swim in the ash dump. Its water has high alkaline environment. This is due to the fact that calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it. Skin contact with such water may cause an allergic reaction!”
The high alkaline levels, with a pH of more than 8, contribute to the blue hue. The lake was created in the 1970s and is the largest of its kind in Siberia.
The statement also advised visitors the bottom of the lake held the most danger, with the mud so thick it may trap swimmers from being able to get to shore.
“THEREFORE, WE ASK YOU VERY MUCH THAT IN YOUR QUEST FOR A SELFIE YOU DON’T FALL DOWN INTO THE ASH DUMP,” it said in capital letters.
“We know that the lake is toxic and didn’t enter the water,” said Marina Zheleznova, who went to the dumping ground to do a photoshoot with her partner.
“This didn’t stop some Russians to organise whole picnics by the lake. One man even bathed there, which is strictly forbidden,” she told CNN.