Lake Onega, Россия

Description of Lake Onega

Lake Onega or Onego is located in the northwestern part of Russia. The lake is the second largest in Europe after Lake Ladoga. It is located on the territory of three regions of Russia: the Republic of Karelia, the Vologda and Leningrad regions.

Lake Onega stretches from the north-west to the south-east, the length is about 290 km, the maximum width is 82 km. The surface area is 9.7 thousand km2. The greatest depth in the northern part of the lake reaches 127 meters. The average depth in the central part is 50-60 meters, closer to the south, the depth decreases to 20-30 meters. The lake is a source of pure fresh water, in the middle of the lake water can be safely consumed without any preparation.

About 50 non-navigable rivers flow into Lake Onega, only one river flows out - the Svir River. In addition to the shipping Svir, which flows out of the lake in the south-western part of the lake near the village of Voznesenie, the lake communicates with the White Sea through the White Sea-Baltic Canal, exit in the northern part of the village Povenets. There is also a shipping link with the Volga through the Volga-Baltic Canal, which goes to Onego in the south, 15 kilometers north of Vytegra.



In the early Russian written monuments, the lake is referred to as Onego. The exact origin of its name is unknown; possibly of ancient, Dauphine origin.

There are several versions of the origin of the name:

Academician A. M. Sjogren produces the name of the lake from Fin. ääni "sound, voice", the Vepsian name for the lake (Änine - from än' "voice" and the diminutive suffix -ine) literally means "voice"; hence the “sounding (“noisy”) lake”;
A. L. Pogodin believes that the toponym comes from the Sami words agne "sand" + jegge "low-lying plain";
professor and doctor of philological sciences I. I. Mullonen believes that the name of the lake could come from the Saami. äne and the Baltic-Finnish änine / äniz, which means "big, significant."
Contrary to popular belief, the name of the lake has nothing to do with the name of the Onega River, which flows into the White Sea.


Physical and geographical characteristics

History of study
In 1874-1894, a hydrographic expedition operated - “Separate survey of Lake Onega”, organized by the Maritime Ministry of the Russian Empire with the aim of conducting a topographic survey of the coastal strip, measuring depths, studying bottom sediments, currents, thermal and level regimes of Lake Onega. As a result of the research, a general map of the lake was drawn up, "Guidelines for swimming in Lake Onega". Navigation charts were first published in 1906. In the future, navigation charts were repeatedly refined and reprinted.


History of formation

The basin of Lake Onega of glacial-tectonic origin. In the Paleozoic (300-400 million years ago), the entire territory of the modern basin of Lake Onega was covered by a shelf sea in the vicinity of the ancient Baltic continent, which was also located in equatorial latitudes. Sedimentary deposits of that time - sandstones, sands, clays, limestones - cover with a thick layer (over 200 m) a crystalline basement consisting of granites, gneisses and diabases. The modern relief was formed as a result of the activity of the ice sheet (the last, Valdai glaciation, ended about 12 thousand years ago). After the retreat of the glacier, the Littorina Sea was formed, the level of which was 7–9 m higher than the present level of the Baltic Sea.


Coasts, bottom topography and hydrography

The surface area of Lake Onega is 9720 km2 (without islands), the maximum length is 248 km, the maximum width is 83 km (from Petrozavodsk to the mouth of the Vodla River). The northern shores are rocky, strongly indented, the southern ones are mostly low, undivided. In the northern part of the lake, numerous bays deeply protrude into the mainland and there is the Zaonezhie peninsula, the largest on the lake. To the south of the peninsula is the largest island on the lake - Bolshoi Klimetsky. To the west of the island is the deepest (up to 100 m or more) part of the lake - Bolshoye Onego Bay with Kondopoga Bay (with depths up to 78 m), Ilem-Gorskaya (42 m), Lizhemskaya (82 m) and Unitskaya (44 m) . In the northeastern part of the lake, a large bay stretches northward, the northern part of which is called the Povenets Bay, the middle part is the Zaonezhsky Bay, and the southern part is the Maloe Onego Bay with depths of 40-50 m. Deep sections here alternate with shoals and groups of islands, which divide the bay into several parts. There are many stones along the shores of the lake.

The main part of the lake - Central Onego - has an area of ​​5685 km², including the Petrozavodsk and Svir bays.

The average depth of the lake is 31 m, the maximum depth in the deepest northern part of the lake reaches 127 m. The average depth in the central part is 50–60 m, closer to the south the bottom rises to 20–30 m. bottom depressions. In the northern part of the lake there are many troughs, alternating with high bottom rises, forming banks, on which industrial trawlers often fish. Much of the bottom is covered with silt. Typical forms are luds (shallow stony shoals), selgas (deep-water elevations of the bottom with stony and sandy soils, in the southern part of the lake), underwater ridges and ridges, as well as depressions and pits. Such a relief creates favorable conditions for the life of fish.

The regime of Lake Onega is characterized by a spring rise in water, which lasts 1.5-2 months, with annual fluctuations in the water level up to 0.9-1 m. The flow from the lake is regulated by the Verkhne-Svirskaya hydroelectric power station. Rivers bring up to 74% of the incoming part of the water balance (15.6 km³ per year), 25% falls on precipitation. 84% of the expenditure part of the water balance falls on the runoff from the lake along the Svir River (an average of 17.6 km³ per year), 16% - on evaporation from the water surface. The highest water levels of the lake are in June-August, the lowest - in March and April. There are frequent unrest, the height of storm waves reaches 3.5 m. The lake freezes in the central part in mid-January, in the coastal part and in the bays - in late November - December. At the end of April, the mouths of the tributaries are opened, the open part of the lake - in May. The water in the open deep parts of the lake is transparent, with visibility up to 7-8 m. In the bays - a little less, up to one meter or less. The water is fresh, with a mineralization of 10 mg/l.


Basin and islands

The basin area of Lake Onega is 53,100 km².

More than 1000 streams flow into the lake, of which 52 are rivers with a length of more than 10 km and 8 - more than 100 km. The largest of them are Vodla and Suna. Also, the lake is filled with its waters by Korovya, Gimrek, Rybrek, Sheltozerka, Yani, Shoksha, Petruchey, Merozlov, Vantik, Bolshaya Uya, Uyka, Derevyanka, Orzega, Neluxa, Stone stream, Lososinka, Neglinka, Padas, Nyuchkina, Anga, Syalnaga, Chapa , Chebinka, Vikshrechka, Listiga, Unitsa, Small Pigma, Matkozero, Vozhmarikha, Pizhey, Lelrechka, Sudma, Tambitsa, Kaley, Tsarevka, Makushikha, Vichka, Lumbushka, Pindushka, White Sea-Baltic Canal, Northern Izhmuksa, Southern Izhmuksa, Arzhema, Vozritsa , Neleksa, Shoivana, Nemina, Lukdozhma, Kodach, Pyalma, Pudozh, Tuba, Yalganda, Oravruchey, Chazhva, Somba, Andoma, Vytegra, Megra, Pertruchey, Oshta, Puinzha, Black and others.

In the Svir Bay of the southern part of the lake, there is the source of the only river Svir flowing out of the lake, on which the Verkhne-Svirskaya hydroelectric power station was built in 1953.

The White Sea-Baltic Canal connects the lake with the White Sea, and through the Volga-Baltic Waterway - with the Volga, the Caspian and Black Seas. With the creation of the Verkhne-Svirsky reservoir in 1951-1953, the lake became a reservoir (area - 9720 km²).

The total number of islands in Lake Onega reaches 1650, and their area is 250 km² (according to other sources, 224 km²). The most famous of the Onega Islands is the island of Kizhi, on which the museum-reserve of the same name with wooden churches of the 18th century is located: Spaso-Preobrazhensky and Pokrovsky. The largest island is Bolshoy Klimetsky (147 km²). There are several settlements on it, there is a school. Other islands: Bolshoy Lelikovsky, Suysari, South Deer Island.


Flora and fauna

The low shores of Lake Onega are swamped and flooded when the water level rises. On the shores of the lake and on its islands, in reed and reed thickets, ducks, geese and swans nest. The coastal area is covered with dense taiga forests in a virgin state.

There are cases of observation of seals on Lake Onega.

Lake Onega is distinguished by a significant variety of fish and aquatic invertebrates, including a significant number of relics of the Ice Age. In the lake there are sterlet, lake salmon, lake trout, brook trout, ludnaya char, pit char, vendace, vendace-kilets, whitefish, grayling, smelt, pike, roach, dace, silver bream, bream, sabrefish, golden carp, char, loach , catfish, eel, pike perch, perch, ruff, Onega slingshot, sculpin, burbot, river and stream lamprey. In total, 47 species and varieties of fish belonging to 13 families and 34 species are found in Lake Onega.

Ecological state
In the second half of the 20th century, the impact on the ecosystem of Lake Onega increased intensively, especially in terms of pollution. The greatest pressure is experienced by the northwestern and northern parts of the lake, where the Petrozavodsk, Kondopoga and Medvezhyegorsk industrial hubs are located. 80% of the population and more than 90% of the industrial potential of the basin are concentrated here. The accounted pollution from three industrial hubs is about 190 million m³ of sewage and drainage water and 150 thousand tons of emissions into the atmosphere per year. The volume of technogenic effluents in the Onega Lake basin is about 315 million m³ per year, of which 46% is industrial and economic, 25% is storm water and 16% is drainage and reclamation water. The intake of biogenic elements into the lake is: phosphorus - 810 tons, total nitrogen - 17 thousand tons per year, and 280 tons of phosphorus and 11.8 thousand tons of nitrogen are taken out of the lake with the waters of the Svir River, that is, 68% of phosphorus and 31% are accumulated in the lake. % nitrogen. The fleet and motor boats (about 8000 units) with exhaust gases, discharge from cooling systems, leaks pollute the aquatic environment mainly with oil products (about 830 tons per navigation), phenols (0.5 tons), lead (0.1 tons), sulfur oxides , nitrogen and carbon.

From the beginning of the 1990s to the end of the 2010s, due to the warming of the climate of Karelia, more and more organic (humic) substances were carried into the lake and such parameters as water color, suspended matter content (from 1.6 to 3 mg/l), iron (from 0.12 to 0.42 mg/l), phosphorus (from 12 to 22 µg/l) and carbon dioxide (from 1.2 to 3.0 mg/l). At the same time, the acidity of the water and the oxygen content fell (respectively, from 7.22 to 7.12 and from 101 to 92% saturation). A sharp increase in the concentration of iron in the upper layer of silt caused a decrease in the number of macrozoobenthos by 6-7 times. In addition, from 2007 to 2016, more than 80 thousand tons of pollutants were discharged into the lake basin from point sources, more than half of the emissions occur in Petrozavodsk and Kondopoga. However, the water of the lake is of high quality and belongs to class 2 (“slightly polluted”) or 3 “a” (“polluted”). Of the 28 pollutants found in water, only 6 were of strictly anthropogenic origin.

A 2018 study showed that the overall species composition and seasonal dynamics of zooplankton in Petrozavodsk Bay has remained unchanged since the 1960s.


Economic importance

The cities of Petrozavodsk, Kondopoga, Medvezhyegorsk, and the urban-type settlement of Povenets are located on the shores of Lake Onega. The lake is navigable, it is part of the waterway, which is part of the Volga-Baltic waterway and the White Sea-Baltic Canal, connecting the basins of the Baltic, Caspian and northern seas. Through the system of canals and rivers, cargoes from Petrozavodsk can be sent to any countries of the coastal sea zone: from Germany to Iran. Along the southern shore of the lake from the Svir River to the Vytegra River, the Onega Shipping Canal was dug.

On the shores of Lake Onega there are 2 ports (Petrozavodsk port and the port of Medvezhyegorsk), 5 marinas (Kondopoga, Povenets, Shala, Vytegra, Voznesenye) and several stopping points.

There is no regular passenger service on the lake, but regularly, several times a day, during navigation along the routes Petrozavodsk - Kizhi and Petrozavodsk - Velikaya Guba, tourist ships and "meteors" go. In addition, passenger ships operate on the route Petrozavodsk - Shala[.

In the waters of Lake Onega, since 1972, the largest Russian sailing regatta, the Onega Sailing Regatta, has been held annually at the end of July - the open championship of Russia in sailing among cruising yachts.

Fishing is developed in the lake. The following 17 species are of the most important commercial importance: vendace, smelt, whitefish, burbot, pike perch, roach, ruff, perch, bream, pike, salmon and char; the smaller ones are ide, grayling, dace, bleak and crucian carp.


Tourism resources

The city of Petrozavodsk is the capital of the Republic of Karelia, the largest city on the shores of Lake Onega. Founded in 1703 by Peter I. There are a large number of architectural monuments on the territory of Petrozavodsk. The most famous of them are: the architectural ensemble of the Round Square of the end of the 18th century, the building of the former provincial male gymnasium of 1790, the architectural ensemble of Karl Marx Avenue of the 1950-1960s, the embankment of Lake Onega with a large number of sculptures - gifts from sister cities and others.

Kondopoga has been known since 1495. The main attraction of the city was the Assumption Church, a monument of wooden architecture. The church was erected in 1774. Its height was 42 meters, which made it one of the tallest wooden churches in the Russian North. In August 2018, the church was destroyed by fire. The city has two carillons of 23 and 18 bells, the Ice Palace and the Palace of Arts with an organ hall.

Medvezhyegorsk was founded in 1916. Since 1931 - the capital of the construction of the White Sea-Baltic Canal. 15 km from Medvezhyegorsk is Sandarmokh - the place of mass executions of the NKVD and the burial places of prisoners who worked on the canal.

Kizhi Island
The main attraction of the lake is the Kizhi Island with the eponymous State Historical, Architectural and Ethnographic Museum-Reserve. On its territory there are 89 monuments of wooden architecture of the XV-XX centuries. The center of the island is the architectural ensemble of the Kizhi Pogost of the 18th century, consisting of the twenty-two-domed summer church of the Transfiguration of the Lord, the nine-domed winter church of the Intercession of the Virgin and the hipped bell tower. In 1990, the Kizhi Pogost was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Onega petroglyphs
Onega petroglyphs are located on the eastern coast of Lake Onega. They date back to the 4th-2nd millennium BC. Petroglyphs are scattered in scattered groups on the rocks of capes Besov Nos, Kladovets, Gazhiy, Peri Nos and on Gury Island. In general, the Onega petroglyphs cover a section of the lake shore 20.5 km long and include approximately 1200 figures and signs.

In July 2021, the petroglyphs of Lake Onega (along with the petroglyphs of the White Sea) were included in the list of UNESCO cultural heritage sites.