Nordland - Norway

Engavatnet - The mysterious lake

Engavatnet is a natural phenomenon which is unique in the in the world. The lake has in the past caused fear, and still today researchers have a hard time explaining the phenomenon. The lake, measuring approx. 600 x 150 meter, is apparently like most other lakes, until it suddenly disappears for then to reappear, a few days- or a few weeks or maybe a few months later, apparently with fish and everything.

Engavatnet - the lake that disappears
  • Engavatnet - the lake that disappears
  • Measuring day by day
  • Fishing in Engavatnet
  • One of the 7 craters in 2009
  • Fish that were left behind when the water disappeared
  • Sheep at the bottom of a lake
  • Measuring sticks at Lake Engavatnet (day by day)
  • Winter 2014 - the lake was almost empty

Something to wonder about

Engavatnet does not disappear at the same place every time. In 2009, there were a total of 7 craters/drains.

The water is said to have previously returned in periods with no rain.

Where do all the water go? There is no trace of Engavatnet and 60.000 to 80.000 cubic meters of water

September 11, 2009- 14 days after the lake reached normal water level- there were no observations of fish yet.

The mysterious lake Fishing in Engavatnet Road description



There are no houses nearby, so it is likely that Engavatnet has disappeared many times, without it being noticed. Taken into consideration that there were attempts to seal the craters in the 1800's, these disappearances may go far back in time.

Year Duration
1930 Unknown
1947 Unknown
1957 Unknown
1974 Unknown
1997 3 days
2000 At least 2 weeks
2002 2 months
2008 Almost empty
2009 2 weeks
2011 Almost empty
2012 Almost empty
2014 Almost empty (February)
2014 2 months (July- August)

About Engavatnet

Engavatnet is a few kilometres north of Hommelstø between the farms Hegge and Brattås. If you are visiting the area, there is probably nothing that will suggest that there is something out of the ordinary going on here, unless you are lucky enough to witness the disappearing. But most likely you will either find a lake here, or you will find the bottom of a lake.

It is uncertain how long it takes to empty 100 to 140 million liters of water. There are only a few people who have been watching the last drop of water disappear, but no one has been present during the whole "draining process".

When Engavatnet is gone, you can see a big hole at the bottom where the water has run out. This hole is usually blocked with a plug of clay, stones and branches. Towards the end of the 1800s and early 1900s it is said that farmers tried to close this hole with peat, in an attempt to reinforce the bottom and prevent the water from disappearing.

Pale fish

In 1997, the water disappeared so quickly that fish was left behind sprawling, and people could pick great catch in buckets.

"Another specialty of Engavatnet is an unusually tenacious fish. The trouts follows the water down into the ground and back again. In the underwater caves the fish feeds on small animals that also comes with the water. Here they become a little skinny and very pale, for nature is oriented so that they lose their camouflage colors and the dots in the dark caves. But they get their natural color back very quickly when they are washed up in the sunlight again. " (From Illustrated Science)

There are many myths about Engavatnet, and not everyone agrees that the fish returns when the lake returns. Some believes that when the water is absent for long periods of time, the fish don't come back, but it is rather fish/eggs in the nearby streams that grows into a new strain of fish.


Velfjord has an enormously high concentration of caves, and beneath Engavatnet there could be a cavesystem that stretches for miles and several meter high. Once the groundwater has decreased so much that "plug" falls out, the water rushes down into these underground caves.

Theories and explanations

1) Some believe that the tunnels in the valley nearby has disturbed the underground cave system, so that Engavatnet is in danger of disappearing for good. Professor of Geology, Stein-Erik Lauritzen, found that after a long dry period, the groundwater level below the lake decreases and leaves hollow spaces. The bottom of mud in Engavatnet dries from below, suddenly it cracks, and the water spills out. When the groundwater level is rising, the water comes back.

2) At the deepest place in the lake there is a kind of valve, and this opens up from time to time, and the water rushes out. After a time, this valve shut and the water fills up again.

3) Engavatnet is in direct connection with the groundwater. Normally, the nature itself provides a plug of mud, branches and rocks, but this plug alone can not hold back all the water. The pressure from the groundwater presses against the plug with such a force that it keeps the plug in place.

In dry periods the groundwater level drops and there is created an airspace below the lake. After awhile the groundwater has dropped so much that the plug falls out, and Engavatnet rushes into the underground. But this is hardly the whole explanation, "says Professor Lauritzen. Because the plug does not fall out every dry period.

Great interest from the media
There was considerable interest in this phenomena on national TV and other media, and the many footprints on the bottom of the lake gave evidence of many visitors. On the web, Engavatnet was the most watched news coverage in Nordland County in this period.