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Lake Tahoe’s Blue Waters Now Clearest Since 1980s

Tahoe’s crystal-clear waters make big comeback for the first time in 40 years thanks to a microscopic clean-up crew
By - posted 4/11/2023 No Comment

Looking for clear waters? Get ready to be mesmerized by the bluest waters you’ve seen in decades at Lake Tahoe.

That’s right! According to a new study by UC Davis, our beloved Lake Tahoe is crystal clear again, and we can thank some tiny but mighty residents for that – the native zooplankton! These little critters are on a clean-up mission, restoring Tahoe’s iconic blue waters to their former glory.

In 2022, Lake Tahoe’s clarity reached an annual average of 71.7 feet, up from 61 feet in 2021. That’s the best it’s been since the 1980s. And it’s all thanks to Daphnia and Bosmina, two types of zooplankton that have made a grand comeback.

But why now, you ask? Back in the 1960s, Mysis shrimp were introduced to the lake, and they loved munching on Daphnia and Bosmina. However, in late 2021, the Mysis population took a nosedive, giving our tiny heroes a chance to rebuild their numbers and start working their magic.

Researchers from UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) have been keeping a close eye on this natural phenomenon. They predict that clarity will continue to improve through 2023, thanks to these microscopic marvels.

But don’t get too comfy! This might be a limited-time offer. As Mysis shrimp populations are expected to bounce back, our beloved Daphnia and Bosmina might take a hit, and clarity could go back to what we’ve seen in the past 20 years.

The states of California and Nevada, which share a border at Lake Tahoe, are actively working to restore lake clarity to its historic 97.4 feet.

That’s why scientists are urging for management actions to control the Mysis population, giving our little zooplankton heroes a fighting chance. In the meantime, efforts continue to keep fine particles and nutrients out of Lake Tahoe, keeping our precious waters pristine.

h/t San Francisco Chronicle