Tanzania’s Lake Natron takes its name from the naturally occurring mix of chemicals it contains: mainly sodium carbonate decahydrate (soda ash) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). The lake is fed by mineral hot springs and a river, but no water flows out except through evaporation.
It may look like this bird was gripped by the icy hand of death, but scientists will explain that it was actually calcified in the caustic waters of Tanzania’s Lake Natron. Photographer Nick Brandt’s eerie black and white photos allow both interpretations.
“I unexpectedly found the creatures — all manner of birds and bats — washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. 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,” Brandt writes in his new photo/essay book, Across The Ravaged Land.
To give these obviously lifeless creatures an air of reanimation, Brandt picked them up off the shoreline and perched them in pre-death poses.