Crater Lake Temporarily Off-Limits To Scuba Divers

Crater Lake is an appealing dive for scuba aficionados, but the lake will be temporary closed to them until Crater Lake National Park officials can formulate protocols for keeping invasive species out of the water.

In a release park officials said they anticipated the protocols would be in place before the beginning of the 2013 season and would require divers to take precautionary measures before entering the lake.

"We have seen the devastation to ecosystems and economies caused by the inadvertent introduction of invasive species from Lake Mead to Lake Erie," said park superintendent Craig Ackerman."We want to prevent it from happening at Crater Lake rather than deal with the aftermath.The increasing popularity of the lake for scuba diving also increases the opportunities for divers and their gear to carry microscopic 'hitchhikers' into the water.They may be small, but damage that can be caused by aquatic invasives is enormous and oftentimes irreversible."

Crater Lake is world-renowned for its crystal clear water and purity and is considered by some scientists to be the most pristine naturally occurring large body of water on the planet. Minor changes in the hydrologic conditions of the lake could permanently affect both purity and clarity.

Aquatic invasive species like quagga mussels, spiny water flea, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus cause severe and permanent damage to the habitats they invade by reducing the abundance of native species and altering ecosystem processes. They rank among the most severe threats to biological diversity and are among the leading causes of extinctions.

Aquatic invaders can range from microscopic bacterial and viral pathogens to plants and animals. In their native environments these species are often controlled by interactions with predators, parasites, pathogens, or competitors. However, when introduced to new environments, like Crater Lake, the same natural checks are often absent, giving invasives an advantage over native species and making them very expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to control. Consequently, focusing on preventing introduction of harmful invasives is key to reducing the risk.

For more information, visit the website of the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force, a consortium of 12 federal agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at http://www.anstaskforce.gov/default.php

Comments

One may only wonder why is took the NPS so long to give this issue headline priority ?

We truly do not know what aquatic biota lived in the Lake at Discovery by Europeans

(ca. 1853); to say that no fish occurred in the Lake is incorrect & truly unknown in the absence

of thorough historical inventory studies. There is one report of a kingfisher sighted over

the shore waters ca. 1865 ? which would suggest fish ? Perhaps a rare endemic transported

via the tens of thousands of migratory waterfowl; this native species may have later become

extinct with Founder William Steel and others bringing buckets of fish including predatory

species to the Lake while stocking was popular. The Cleetwood trail is not monitored 24/7

so the NPS does not know what may have been introduced during past visitations, and at

one time actively required special permits to Scuba Dive. The tour boats bring noise and

many visitors to the Lake waters (thus blemishing Crater Lake's Sacred Native American

Place) as well as potential fuel contamination. There have been times when Wizard island

was without adequate rest room facilities thus providing a potential human waste

contamination source near the so-called pristine waters. Pure, Clean Water is a

Valuable Precious Resource and the NPS needs to become more serious about protecting

Crater Lake's special status as a clean water deep lake, rare among Earth's global often

dreadfully polluted deep water bodies. This Wondrous Heritage Place belongs to all

thinking Americans who value Beauty and know that once impacted by pollution, the

Magic is Lost ! "A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." The Ponds. Henry David Thoreau

I went to Crater Lake with my family in l959; now, THAT was pristine. I was so struck with amazement at the natural beauty of the lake and its surroundings that the vision of it is clear in my mind to this day. I was horrified to learn in the 90s that tourism had sparked building in that area. I have no desire to return and see the desecration of that stunning site.

Aurora,

You may be thinking about Crater Lake Lodge reconstruction (re-opened by 1995) and

Rim Village Gift Shop & Parking Lot changes all of which are much improved from earlier

status (alothough many historic flaws of the Lodge were rebuilt ? including a dining room

and public rest rooms, both really too small for today's visitation). The removal of the old

ugly parking spaces does manage/prevents drainage toward the Caldera Rim & Lake which

is wiser; and does manage increasing visitor congestion with better dispersal during busy

periods. Of equal/greater concern are the Deepest Lake's Limnological Changes and basic

dynamics affected by global warming and atmospheric inputs. There needs to be an effort

to publish and make available the results of the last 30 years of Crater Lake Monitoring

data with appropriate review by interests outside the NPS. This Lake Monitoring Project

became mandated by Congress following one Limnologists belief that Rim Village's

voluminous sewerage old-septic mis-management was finally affecting the Lake's Clarity.

Crisis Management at its best as the result of the Voluntary work of one Limnologist, Dr.

Douglas Larson, without which the Crater Lake Monitoring Project may never have been

funded by Congress ? So, now that there has been at least 30 years of data, where are the

Monitoring results and accessible reports for public information ?

Tis amazing how the NPS employs several GS-11/12 & 13 natural resource pay graded

positions earning between $60 & $80,000/yr. without requiring timely research reports

easily available to the publics and scientists for their information & scientific peer review ?

How can this be ? and it has yet to change in preparation for the Second Century NPS

Era: Why hasn't the NPS been more ACCOUNTABLE ? and WHERE is the Integrity critical

to NPS's higher Management and LEADERSHIP ?

"Of equal/greater concern are the Deepest Lake's Limnological Changes and basic dynamics affected by global warming"

Global warming hasn't touched Crater Lake. It has cooled by 0.61 degrees Farenheit since 1990. Data here: http://www.climate.washington.edu/trendanalysis/

What's really affecting Crater Lake are motorized boats, cars, Rim Drive, and Rim Village, from which there have been multiple sewage spills since the 1970s, some of which have been swept under the rug by the NPS.


Personally, I doubt that this should be an issue, given the lake's
presence for more than 7000 years, and it's highly oligotrophic
status.

From my distant perspective, I think that there's more chance of the
lake harboring exotic species brought in by wind, cars, park visitors,
birds, etc., than brought in on the equipment of the dozen or so SCUBA
divers who might wish to dive in the lake.

On the other hand, major impacts on the lakes ecosystem would be
coupled to the introduction of additional nitrates and phosphates. I
don't think SCUBA divers would have much of a influence on this,
unless they chose to relieve themselves during the dive.

Come to think of it, the lake already harbors two major exotic
species, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon! They were reportedly first
introduced to Crater Lake via artificial stocking from 1888 through
the early 1940's. The lake's transparency has been hypothesized by
some to be influenced by fish harvesting of zooplankton which in turn
graze on the lake's phytoplankton.

An easy solution is to request that anyone with the desire to scuba
dive in Crater Lake, wash and dry their equipment prior to a dive in
the lake.