Imandra lake was found in geographic maps quite late in spite of its sizes and location in the west of the Khibiny massif, on the way between Murmansk and White sea. First mentions about large water entity in Lapland dates back to 1539 in the maps of Olaf Magnus. Large water entity was called «Lacus alba», historians and geographers considered it was another name for the White sea. But later it was found that it belonged to individual water area.
In 1568 D. Gastal’do created a map where water entity «Lago Bianco» flew to the White sea. In 1954 Levin Algut published a map where the lake was inflowing into Finnish bay. At that year Merkator’s map presented water flow that connected water entity and White sea, water mouth coming out of the lake was located in Kandalaksha settlement.
In 1601 Simon Van Salingen developed detailed map of Lapland based on personal observations of scientist. He depicted lake but called it «Akill». This indicates that water entity mapped is Imandra lake itself. In addition its western part was called «Akkel’aiver’».
In 1611 Andrey Bureus compiled a map where «Lacus albus» lake is not presented but detailed description of sea coast indicated on new references that Bureus used during his study. In 1612 S. Naigebauer and in 1613 G. Gerrits compiled Russian maps where there is relation of the lake and the White sea by the river not far from Kandalaksha settlement. In 1614 new issue of the map by G. Gerrits presented water entity as a river head with sign «Pirenga» lake. Only in 1745 the name Imandra lake appeared. It was introduced by K. Kirillov in his atlas. Since then water entity was indicated in other issues with small difference in boundaries but the same name.
In 1840 traveler Aleksander Middendorf started on expedition to cross the middle of the Kola peninsula in summer. His route was along Kola river, Imandra lake and river flowing to Kandalaksha settlement. The accuracy of topographic maps of Aleksander Middendorf was high enough although he had only watch and hunter’s compass for survey. He compiled his maps based on detailed marking of all sharp changes along his route following the compass and taking into account the time he spent passing specific part of the route.
In spite of poor equipment, map of Aleksander Middendorf that he published in 1845 turned out to be precise. Water basin topography was more accurate than data in «Post route map» published in 1842. In «Post route map» lake that has waterflow – Umba river into Kandalaksha bay. However, the water entity has a waterflow into the White sea by Niva river that has been specified in the works of Aleksander Middendorf. Further on, these and other works will make him popular among natural scientists.
During the period 1887-1892 expedition from Finland visited the peninsula. The expedition involved such scientists as Osvald Chil’man, Alfred Petrelius, Wilhelm Ramsay and other. Mapping of lake water basin gave important and curious results. First series of astronomic stations in the center of the peninsula has been established by topographer Alfred Petrelius. He performed instrumental survey of water entity and adjacent territory. Truly speaking, Finnish map of the water entity that has been published by Alfred Petrelius in 1892 was not accurate in details. It was correct only in shape contour of Imandra lake. It was based on survey results. Survey has been provided without walk-round but using cross-bearings of specific elevations, map didn’t present bays, capes and other elements of the coastal line.
Geographic Society of Russia held a geological expedition in 1880. It crossed Imandra basin. Nikolay Kudryavtsev besides geological studies made sketches of local area and collected topographic and toponymic materials. Local Saami guided the expedition and told scientist about names of the bays, capes and islands. The list of the names is 30 pages of scientist’s diary.
At the end of 19 century Imandra lake location was finally established but the water entity itself was not studied yet. For a long time there were no data about its origin, depth, coastal structure, flora and fauna as there were no hydrobiological and limnological studies made. At the beginning of 20 century geographer A.S. Grigoryev published a paper where he wrote that Imandra lake was still unknown and mysterious lake.
In 1924 workers of Murmansk biological station carried out studies of Imandra lake. It was the first scientific organization in the north of Russia. It included several scientists as: F.Ye. Belov, G.M. Kreps, F.V. Krogius and M.N. Mikhailov. They focused on study of hydrogeology, hydrobiology of Belaya Guba, adjacent lake and near lake area. In 1925 a new group under the leadership of G.D. Rikhter has made a survey. In 1926 the results of Imandra lake basin expedition were published. Later the results obtained were declared a standard for studies in Lake Hydrology.
In 1960s when the issue of lake contamination occurred, studies were provided by expedition of National Research Institute of Lake and River Fisheries. In 1970s detailed study of Imandra ecosystem and man-made changes has been performed by Kola Science Center. These studies included studies of wild nature and flora of the lake, sedimentation and water quality.