A rusting metal barrel, near where another barrel containing a human body was found, is exposed on the shore during low water due to the western drought at Lake Mead Marina on the river Colorado to Boulder City, Nevada on May 5, 2022. – A worsening drought revealed a four-decade-old body dumped in Lake Mead, police said May 2, 2022, warning that declining levels of water would lead to the discovery of more corpses.
Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images
The receding shoreline of Nevada’s Lake Mead has led to the discovery of two sets of human remains and opened up the mystery of the aquatic depths of the nation’s largest reservoir and what may be hidden beneath.
Even more bodies are likely to be discovered, police say, as water levels continue to drop and drought grips the region, exposing more of the long-obscured secrets in the underwater grave.
It’s not the first time that an environmental crisis – which has seen temperatures rise, water levels drop, drought persist and wildfires rage in different parts of the country – has exposed strange sights.
Climate change has unearthed human remains, debris from plane crashes and vanished vehicles in depleting bodies of water, as well as frozen corpses on melting mountain tops.
Here’s a look at some of the grim discoveries.
Boaters enjoying the spring day at Lake Mead made a shocking discovery on May 1: a metal barrel that appeared to contain skeletal remains.
“We believe this to be a homicide resulting from a gunshot wound,” Las Vegas police Lt. Ray Spencer said.
Efforts are underway to identify the victim, who investigators believe was killed in the mid-1970s to early 1980s, based on clothing and footwear, Las Vegas police say.
The remnants likely emerged because the reservoir reached historic lows and fell to around 30% capacity. Last month, water levels reached below an inlet valve that began supplying Nevada customers in 1971.
Just six days after the barrel was discovered, another set of skeletal remains were found at Callville Bay in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the National Park Service said. However, in this case, Las Vegas police said there was no evidence to suggest foul play.
Although other bodies may be there, falling water levels and continued drought are a crisis authorities are struggling to address. Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, is a major lifeline providing water to approximately 40 million people in seven southwestern states.
Frozen ‘mummies’ found on melting mountain peaks
The perilous journey to scale Mount Everest is a notoriously dangerous trek that Reuters reported around 300 deaths, according to a Himalayan database. Victims are sometimes left on the peak, as it is too dangerous to transport them. Long buried under snow and ice, some of these bodies have resurfaced due to rising temperatures.
“Due to global warming, the ice cap and glaciers are rapidly melting and the corpses that have been buried all these years are now on display,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, told the BBC in 2019.
“We have brought down the bodies of some mountaineers who died in recent years, but the old ones who remained buried are now coming out,” he added.
Similarly, in the Swiss Alps in 2017, the frozen bodies of a couple who went missing 75 years earlier were found due to melting ice.
Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, the parents of seven children, had gone to milk their cows in a meadow above Chandolin in the canton of Valais on August 15, 1942, but never returned, Reuters reported.
Their bodies were found remarkably preserved in a glacier, and their possessions were intact, witnesses said at the time.
It was believed that they had fallen into a crevasse.
“As the glacier receded, it abandoned their bodies,” Bernhard Tschannen, then director of the Glacier 3000 ski lift company, told the Tribune de Genève newspaper, Reuters reported at the time.
In 2014, the mummified bodies of two Austrian World War I soldiers emerged due to melting glaciers around the small Italian ski resort of Peio. The soldiers, who had gunshot wounds, are believed to have died in a battle between Austro-Hungarian troops and the Italian army.
California lake retreat reveals mystery of decades-old plane crash
Last summer, a drought in California caused water levels in Lake Folsom to drop so low that sonar technology detected the remains of a nearly intact plane at the bottom of the reservoir.
The plane was detected under 160 feet of water at the lake, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the The Placer County Sheriff’s Office then said.
At first, it was thought to be a 1965 New Year’s Eve accident that killed four people. The sheriff’s office said the plane was determined to be from a 1986 case where the plane crashed with no fatalities reported.
Body found in Lake Powell due to low water levels
Falling water levels at Lake Powell, Utah led police to discover a body in a vehicle in the water on August 16.
The vehicle may have been missing since September 2020, the The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement in August, noting that it was discovered “due to the receding waters of Lake Powell.”
Officials believed he fell 600ft from a ledge into the lake near Hite Marina.