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-   -   Lake Tahoe is full of bodies (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=25875)

snopes 14 February 2008 06:58 AM

Lake Tahoe is full of bodies
 
Comment: There is an urban legend that Lake Tahoe is rampant with
preserved dead bodies from various points in time in it's frigid depths.
The story goes that there are hundreds, if not thousands at the bottom(for
various reasons, like mafia crime, drownings, funeral rituals, etc.), that
never decay due to the extreme cold at it's base. Lake Tahoe is over 1600
feet deep at it's deepest points, so the urban legend is spawned. I also
heard that it's a bunch of you know what and that bodies do decay, though
maybe slower than normal rates. Can you confirm or deny this urban legend?

Mycroft 14 February 2008 10:08 AM

The maximum density of water is at 4C - that is why ice floats (the scientific explanation is hydrogen bonding) which is the same temp as a refrigerator. Although decay is slower at this temperature, it still happens.

Troberg 14 February 2008 10:48 AM

Quote:

The maximum density of water is at 4C - that is why ice floats (the scientific explanation is hydrogen bonding) which is the same temp as a refrigerator. Although decay is slower at this temperature, it still happens.
Not only that, there are also a lot of critters that happily eat dead bodies.

Floater 14 February 2008 10:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mycroft (Post 510218)
The maximum density of water is at 4C - that is why ice floats (the scientific explanation is hydrogen bonding) which is the same temp as a refrigerator. Although decay is slower at this temperature, it still happens.

And any large body of water, if deep enough, will have a temperature of 4C at the bottom.

jimmy101_again 14 February 2008 04:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Floater (Post 510235)
And any large body of water, if deep enough, will have a temperature of 4C at the bottom.

Learn something new every day!

Actually, it appears that Lake Tahoe doesn't fit this rule. Lake Tahoe appears to be a "monomictic" lake, during parts of the year the water is mixed and the temperature at the bottom isn't 4C. (From here.)

At 500m (1650 ft) deep, Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the US, Crater Lake in Oregon is deepest at ~600m, and the third deepest in N. America.

Cervus 14 February 2008 04:13 PM

Using that logic, Tahoe should also be full of dead fish and other critters that have never decayed. Human bodies don't decompose much differently than any other animal.

For comparison, the Titanic lies 12,000 feet below the ocean's surface. There are no preserved bodies - nor have any body parts been found - in the wreckage. Organic matter will decay and be consumed regardless of the depth or temperature of the water. Otherwise, our oceans would be filled with millions of years' worth of dead organisms.

diving_cecil 14 February 2008 04:29 PM

This legend probably comes from people observing wooden wrecks on the bottom of cold lakes. They stay entact very well. But as was pointed out there are lots of critters big and small all to happy to devour any flesh that comes there way.

Now having said that there is another consideration, many lakes have a layer of silt on the bottom. Anything negative enough will end up down in the silt. In some lakes this layer is quite thick (greater than 3' which is how far I am willing to reach). I don't think this will stop decay but it could if the body end up deep enough in the silt to remove the oxygen. Plausable???

Nick Theodorakis 14 February 2008 05:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Troberg (Post 510231)
Not only that, there are also a lot of critters that happily eat dead bodies.

Quote:

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he'll eat for weeks!
From: Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

Nick

RLS 13 March 2008 05:43 PM

I believe there are some bacteria that can survive without oxygen, thus even in the muck things will decay.

Natalie 13 March 2008 09:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RLS (Post 543581)
I believe there are some bacteria that can survive without oxygen, thus even in the muck things will decay.

Yep, anaerobic bacteria don't require oxygen to live.

SerenaSong 31 December 2008 03:13 AM

I've heard the legend that the spot called the Grave is where the Mafia dumped bodies because Tahoe "doesn't give up its dead". I think that is more because the lake is so deep and cold, preventing the gases that cause bodies to bloat and surface (creepy!) more so than not decomposing. There's another legend that there is a hole deep somewhere on the bottom of the lake!

Katie, Lake Tahoe

Eddylizard 31 December 2008 03:49 AM

According to Gordon Lightfoot I thought it was Lake Superior that "never gives up her dead."

http://home.pacbell.net/chabpyne/lyrics.html

Towknie 31 December 2008 03:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mycroft (Post 510218)
The maximum density of water is at 4C

I believe you, but what happens at 1-3C?

ButterscotchCat 31 December 2008 03:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eddylizard (Post 839940)
According to Gordon Lightfoot I thought it was Lake Superior that "never gives up her dead."

http://home.pacbell.net/chabpyne/lyrics.html

Oh jeez, thanks for the earworm ;)

Eddylizard 31 December 2008 03:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ButterscotchCat (Post 840285)
Oh jeez, thanks for the earworm ;)

Hey no problem. This is the season of giving after all. :)

Nick Theodorakis 31 December 2008 05:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Towknie (Post 839944)
I believe you, but what happens at 1-3C?

It begins to start to structure itself, at least over short ranges, like ice, which has a lower density than liquid water.

Nick

Winged Monkey 10 February 2009 06:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SerenaSong (Post 839925)
I've heard the legend that the spot called the Grave is where the Mafia dumped bodies because Tahoe "doesn't give up its dead". I think that is more because the lake is so deep and cold, preventing the gases that cause bodies to bloat and surface (creepy!) more so than not decomposing. There's another legend that there is a hole deep somewhere on the bottom of the lake!

Katie, Lake Tahoe

An Oceanographer once told me about a spot off the California coast that was perfect for dumping bodies (and supposedly used for this by 'the mafia') because of the currents there and an deep trench cut in the continental shelf. I believed her about the trench and currents, though I question the idea that the mob has many members with the ocean sciences background to know about it.

Also, there's the Black Sea, whose anoxic layer preserves shipwrecks and the bodies aboard them remarkably well because it lacks oxygen - they find vessels from antiquity in great states of repair. I don't understand hydrology, but I guess anoxic water conditions result when a fresh water basin doesn't experience and interchange between its upper and lower layers, there's also something about bacteria. Anyway lake Tahoe isn't on the wikipedia list of meromictic lakes where such conditions occur. Great Salt Lake is though -- I guess the Mormon mafia may have to drive a ways to dispose of bodies.

-Winged Monkey

snopes 23 June 2010 06:15 PM

Comment: I was born in Carson City NV and have
lived here my whole life. Carson City is about 20 min from Lake Tahoe so
my wife and I spend a lot of time there at the lake during the hot
summers. My whole life I have heard rumors that there are a lot of human
bodies that have been dumped in the lake to never be found because of the
depth of the lake itself. The one that really sticks out for me is that
when they were building the railroad through Truckee Ca. or one of the
surrounding Tahoe city's that they had brought in hundreds of Chines
immigrants to build the rail roads. They did this because it was cheaper
in labor for everyone and they promised the Chines immigrants U.S
citizenship after the project was completed. Well when all said and done
they didn't want to have to deal with all that so they would take the
immigrants out to the middle of the lake and tied them together in big
groups and weighed them down and dumped them in. Now because Lake Tahoe is
so big and deep, its temperature only changes between 2 or 3 degrees from
winter to summer so its really cold. So the rumor states that not only are
there hundreds of people down there all tied together but they are
perfectly preserved because of the temperature. It has been said that some
independent film maker got ahold of some deep sea diving machine and found
were all these people were at and went down to see for himself so he could
film a documentary on it. Well when he came back up from viewing all of
this he said he would not film it because the world was not ready to see
what the U.S Government did to these poor people. I have tried doing my
own research on this and have found some info but still am not to sure
about it. My Grandparents live in Tahoe for 30+ years and Grandma would
always say that back in Tahoe hay day when the rat pack was running around
there that the mafia they were connected to would do the same things to
people the wanted to "get rid of" .... again not sure but would love to
know!

Critterbites 25 June 2010 10:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 1244681)
Well when he came back up from viewing all of
this he said he would not film it because the world was not ready to see
what the U.S Government did to these poor people.

Oh, so that's what Avatar was about...


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