Tahoe in Between the Lines

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Rumor has it that Jacques Cousteau brought a special high altitude submarine to Lake Tahoe to explore the lake in the 1970s. When asked about his exploration he reportedly said, ‘The world is not ready to know what is in Lake Tahoe.’ But, according to sources, he never visited Lake Tahoe. Some of his family did, although they came without a submersible. A further and wilder rumor states that Cousteau’s planned Tahoe dive was halted by powerful individuals, for reasons unknown.

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Another rumor persists describing what Jacques was talking about in the statement that he never said. The rumor (we’ve all heard it) is that there are layers of murdered people, who were dumped in the lake and remain there, floating in a thermocline, which keeps them perfectly preserved and awaiting discovery. Tales tell that miners of the late 1800s and mobsters in the early 1900s were the perpetrators. The victims were thrown in the lake and due to a special combination of pressure, temperature, altitude and current unique to Lake Tahoe, remain there today. Another aspect of the rumor speculates that, not only are they floating, gathered and preserved, but are shrunk in on themselves as well, due to the pressure.

It seems certain that Tahoe has claimed some bodies. ‘Some drowning victims, though recovery efforts are made, are never found,’ said Sergeant Helen Thomson, a Placer County Sheriff. However it is unlikely that these bodies remain in the lake.

If mobsters did go on Tahoe fishing trips to ‘dismiss’ someone, like Michael Corleone orders for his brother Fredo in The Godfather: Part II, the evidence will eventually be gobbled up by the multitude of munchers in the ecosystem. ‘If there are critters in there – microorganisms, fish, they will reduce anything they come across,’ said Dr. Eric Barlelinc, Assistant Professor of Forensic Anthropology at Chico State. He went on to say, ‘Low temperatures will slow down bacterial activity, but the process of decay would not stop unless it was completely frozen.’

Fact is, below 700 feet in Tahoe, the water remains a constant 39 F. Cousteau never explored underneath Lake Tahoe and there are no floating tombs. Besides, if Costeau had ventured in Tahoe, the venerable Tahoe Tessie would have wrestled his submarine to the bottom.

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