The natural world is full of all kinds of strange phenomena, from spooky Brocken specters to chocolate waterfalls. Now, we explain the optical illusion showing the lake that seemingly floats above the sea below.
At the center of a rough triangle between the top of Scotland, the east coast of Iceland, and the west of Norway sits the Faroe Islands. This is a group of around 750 islands that make up a self-governing archipelago with 17 inhabited islands. Once belonging to Norway for hundreds of years, the islands are now part of the Kingdom of Denmark. These islands are between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea, with no point on any of the islands being more than 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) to the coast. At the top of one of these islands is Lake Sørvágsvatn, which appears to hang above the swirling sea below it.
Lake Sørvágsvatn, also known as Leitisvatn or even "the lake above the ocean", is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands found on the island of Vágar. Lots of photographs of the lake are taken in such a way as to make it seem like the lake is hovering high above the ocean, creating an optical illusion-like effect. In actual fact, the lake sits only 30 meters (98 feet) above sea level and covers an area of 3.4 square kilometers (1.31 square miles).
These photographs show just how much the perspective really matters since the lake can be made to look like it’s floating much higher than 30 meters above the ocean. Bøsdalafossur waterfall in the right image below forms part of the lake, allowing water to flow over the edge of the cliff and into the sea below.
The island of Vágar held an important strategic point during World War II. During the British occupation of the Faroe Islands, an airfield was constructed to the west of the lake where the British could monitor for German warships.