Lake Natron in Tanzania is a one-of-a-kind spot. With water at temperatures topping 140 degrees Fahrenheit, blood-red from the bacteria that inhabit it, and boasting a soda and salt content high enough to strip the ink off photographer Nick Brandt‘s Kodak boxes in a matter of seconds, it’s an environment like nowhere else in the world.

It’s a dangerous place.

While photographing his way through Tanzania, Brandt came across oddly well-preserved animal corpses on the shores of the lake. As an artist, he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shoot them.

In his new book, Across the Ravaged Land, Brandt writes:

“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. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they die.”

According to, that is not 100% accurate, as the lake does host many species of animals (although the caustic waters are extremely inhospitable to animals not adapted to them). It’s only when those animals die while in the water that they fall victim to the calcification process, and that’s what the photographer found in the birds and other animals washed up on the shore.

It does, however, make for some fantastical and eerie pictures.


Photo Credit: Nick Brandt