"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," Brandt writes in his new photo book Across the Ravaged Land. "The water, blood-red from the bacteria that live in it, has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry."
"Discovering these animals washed up along the shoreline, I thought were extraordinary -- every last tiny detail perfectly preserved down to the tip of a bat's tongue, the minute hairs on his face. The entire fish eagle was the most surprising and revelatory find," Brandt said, who photographed these calcified animals.
The creatures, he said, were "rock hard" from the calcification. "There was never any possibility of bending a wing or turning a head to make a better pose -- they were like rock," he said, "so we took them and placed them on branches and rocks just as we found them for the photos”.