It’s no secret that turquoise water is at a premium in the age of Instagram. At this point, it’s almost as important as the sun. Transparent water ripples and deep Mediterranean blues are swell and all, but they’re not turquoise. The Maldives, for example, are prime Instagram real estate due to the delicate shade of blue that laps against its shores. So iconic is this shade that a lake in Siberia has been dubbed after the island-state because its water possesses a certain… glow.
Look up the “Novosibirsk Maldives” and you’ll find images of couples kissing on paddle boards, bikini shots by the shore, and of course, wedding photos set against the vibrant blue water. But as Keke Palmer would say, the gag is this isn’t a lake. It’s a man-made toxic waste site for a nearby power plant. According to the New York Times, calcium salt deposits and metal oxides give this pool its iridescent quality.
This isn’t the first time influencers (and aspiring influencers) have flirted with toxicity in order to get the perfect picture. Influencer culture, at its worst, is known for promoting liver-destroying diet products and making light out of the Chernobyl tragedy.
In case it’s not obvious, authorities urge visitors not to bathe in these waters. The Siberian company Heating and Electrical Station Number 5 had to issue a warning. “It’s not poisonous,” the company said in a statement, adding that the radiation level is normal but that coal ash in the water can cause allergic reactions.
So, is this water so toxic it could make a cameo in the fourth season of Stranger Things? Is it so toxic that if you bring your own sugar and spice, you might emerge from it as the long-lost Power Puff Girl? Apparently not. But just because it can’t kill you (or give you superpowers) doesn’t mean the dip is worth it. After all, a nasty rash can ruin an Instagram feed.