Friday, May 01, 2009

U.V.P. - Press Conference & Maiden Tahoe Voyage

On Thursday, April 30th, 2009 the Undersea Voyager Project officially got underway with their underwater studies of Lake Tahoe at the Tahoe Keys Marina, South Lake Tahoe, CA. A press conference was held which introduced the members of the UVP and the working team from the Tahoe area. The submersible "SeaMagine" did a short test descent after the introduction.

Listen to the audio of the press conference below, just push PLAY button. (A little windy at times, but very listenable.)

From L-R, Syd Loomis, South Lake Tahoe Student Ambassador, Scott Cassell, President/CEO of Undersea Voyager Project and Tahoe Regency Planning Agency Communications Director Julie Regan. A major portion of the press conference and the studies of which the Undersea Voyager Project are going to partake, include the invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels that have the possibility to invade Lake Tahoe. Quagga mussels were discovered in the US in Lake Mead, Nevada in 2007. The mussels originate from European waters. Quagga mussels have also been found in Lakes Mohave and Havasu in the Colorado River, and in the Colorado River Aqueduct System which serves Southern California. Surveys in August 2008 found Quagga in Lake Dixon and San Vicente Reservoirs in San Diego County. One Quagga Mussel can lay a million eggs and there is no eradication. Chris from the Tahoe Resource Conservation District inspects the SeaMagine. New this year on the lake, all public boat ramps will be manned with an inspector to perform a $35 dollar mussel inspection. In addition, all private boat ramps must have an inspector to check every boat that enters the lake. The fee would be a one time cost to someone who only boats in Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe does not have ANY Quagga mussels and strict inspection procedures and the cooperation of the people that use this gem will prevent their introduction.

The Undersea Voyager Project will study other invasive species that currently occupy the lake, the Asian Clam, Eurasian watermilfoil algae, Largemouth Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Brown Bullhead Catfish and will be on the look out for the Goldfish (Tahoe Tessie too!). From the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the US Forest Service; "Please do not dump your goldfish into Lake Tahoe! Native to Asia, goldfish have been introduced worldwide due to their popularity as pond and aquarium fish. Releases, both intentional and unintentional, have meant that this species has formed wild populations in many locations. Goldfish impacts on the aquatic community include increasing turbidity, predation upon native fish, and helping to facilitate algal blooms. Goldfish are among the most destructive non-indigenous species in North America, primarily because of their diet of aquatic vegetation. They strip waters of oxygen-producing plants which increases water temperatures and destroys habitat for native juvenile fish. In addition, the feeding habits of goldfish stir up sediments, which leads to a decrease in water clarity and inhibits plant growth. If goldfish populations get large enough we will see a further decline in the shorezone clarity of Lake Tahoe."

Here is a video from the Arizona Game & Fish that dictates the proper procedure to eradicate the mussels from a boat.

Click this link to see the first part (30 minutes) of a video produced by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission with support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on the "Don't Move A Mussel" campaign.

The children of Lake Tahoe School, Incline Village, NV made the trip over to The Keys to admire the submarine and learn about youth sciences. Scott Cassell has said repeatedly in many of his community talks last week about how important it is to engage children in the Undersea Voyager Project and the study of Sciences. There will be an Undersea Voyager Project Youth Day on May 17th at Obexer's Marina, Homewood,CA and all local children are invited to attend.

Will Kohnen, Owner and Designer/Builder of SeaMagine, Scott Cassell, President/CEO of U.V.P., and Peri Best, Public Relations Officer prepare for the descent.

Scott Cassel releases the air from the ballasts for SeaMagine's descent.

Note from Robert: For those of you that come to my website on a regular basis, I promise that I will get back on track with posts dedicated to my occupation and the aquarium trade. This project that is happening in Lake Tahoe is a very historical event to me and many in my community and I hope that my readers find it interesting. Monday will be our first dive with U.V.P. departing from the Tahoe City Marina and with the rain predicted, water surface temperatures at 45 degrees, I am quite certain that my daughter Madison will attempt to find a way to get into SeaMagine rather than diving. We were asked to come up with the dive location and I will suggest either the Stateline Wall which is composed of giant granite boulders stacked on top of each other, forming a wall. The Stateline Wall is located about 1300 feet west of the CalNeva Lodge in Crystal Bay, NV. The depth drops to over 800 feet with over 80 feet of visibility. Or possibly the wrecks at Emerald Bay which would put us in warmer surface (+2 degrees!) water and shallower diving. I also hope to get the crew over to the Glenbrook area where there is a large amount of construction debris in the lake from the 1800's logging industry that took place in the area.

(For those of you that are viewing this on my FaceBook page, please go to to see all of the links in there entirety.)

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