A look below the surface

UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center diver Katie Webb gathers underwater film footage in Lake Tahoe.

UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center diver Katie Webb gathers underwater film footage in Lake Tahoe.

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Imagine seeing what happens below the surface of Lake Tahoe — a school of Kokanee salmon swimming, algae growing and a bluegill fish satisfying its hunger.

All that and more will be featured in the new 3D movie “Let’s Go Jump in the Lake,” currently being produced by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center education team and likely to be released late this summer.

“We’re really giving people a view of something they wouldn’t normally be able to see,” said Heather Segale, UC Davis TERC education and outreach director.

While the film will focus on underwater activities, above-surface footage will be included, since the two are connected.

Factors such as urban stormwater runoff, fertilizer runoff, vehicle emissions, introduction of aquatic invasive species and weather all impact the health and clarity of the famed blue waters of Lake Tahoe.

When mid-lake clarity was measured by UC Davis in 1968, the recorded Secchi depth — gathered by lowering a 10-inch white disc into the lake until the plate is no longer visible — was 102.4 feet. In 2013, average clarity was 70.1 feet as a result of weather and human impact.

By informing viewers of the ecology and physics of Lake Tahoe, the film aims to educate the public on the actions needed to protect it.

“The more you know and understand, the more you care, and the more you care, the more you will do to protect it,” Segale said.

To help foster that connection, the film will be in 3D.“It’s to give people a real immersive feel of being in the watershed and under the water,” Segale said.

But getting 3D footage isn’t easy.

It requires two cameras ­— one for the “left” and “right” eye — that are stable and in sync, according to TERC.

Also key are precision and control — two things that are hard to come by when diving deep under the surface of Lake Tahoe. One challenge, according to TERC, is sediment and organic material being stirred up by a diver’s flippers or the wind during filming.

The research center is using cameras and waterproof housing donated by GoPro to capture above-water and underwater moments, according to TERC.

Filming began October 2013, with TERC researchers Brant Allen and Katie Webb, 3D movie specialist Steve Andersen, script writer Sharon Wood, and the center’s entire education team partaking in production.

When completed, the film is expected to be 10 to 15 minutes and will be shown at UC Davis Tahoe Science Center.

The science center is open 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. It is located on the first floor of the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences building on the Sierra Nevada Caollege campus at 291 Country Club Drive in Incline Village.

To learn more, visit tahoe.ucdavis.edu.


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