Exploring an alien environment | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Exploring an alien environment

Axie Navas

Axie Navas / Tahoe Daily TribuneGuests at Embassy Suites in South Lake Tahoe pause for a minute to look at the Undersea Voyager Project's submersible, the Great White.

Guests entering the Embassy Suites Lake Tahoe Hotel and Ski Resort encountered something not usually seen in a hotel lobby on Friday – a fully functional, 2,000-pound submersible.

“We have a lot of people interested in that thing. Many of them are asking, ‘What is it?’ This is the first time many of these guests have seen anything like this,” the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing Bill Cottrill said.

The 14-foot vessel, named the Great White, is part of the Undersea Voyager Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring underwater sites throughout the world. The Great White has an operating depth of 500 feet, and is scheduled to make a series of 60 dives this September in Lake Tahoe.

Often piloted by UVP youth ambassadors and scientists, the dives will include physical observations, water quality experiments, searches for micro-plastics and cultural artifacts, and investigations on invasive species according to the President and Founder of UVP Scott Cassell.

Cassell led dives in Lake Tahoe in 2009. The organization’s site stated that the first time the team visited the area, they discovered 2,000-year-old trees still standing underwater, several new species, and evidence of a 300-foot ancient tsunami.

Executive Director of Sustainable Tahoe Jacquie Chandler said she hopes projects like these UVP dives can help maintain water clarity in Lake Tahoe by getting people interested in preserving it.

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The Tahoe Expo, one of Sustainable Tahoe’s action campaigns, aims to fuel that interest by offering visitors and South Shore residents the chance to get an up-close view of the submersible’s work – or as close as they can get on a boat about 250 feet above the vessel.

One of the Expo’s adventure tracks, day-long guided geo-tourism tours, will take participants out on the lake where they will be able to view live images during one of the submersible’s dives.

“If this kind of adventure becomes a brand of Tahoe, things you can’t get at home, we can save this water. When they connect, they care and become stewards,” Chandler said.

Chandler said that the dive will provide an underwater view not often available that can provide insight into what’s happened in the past and what’s happening now in the lake.

For more information on the expo, visit http://www.tahoeexpo.com.

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