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15 December, 2021

Swimmers concerned for the future of Lake Eacham

SWIMMERS from across the Tablelands have raised eyebrows at a sudden change in colour, temperature, dead fish and a film on the water surface of Lake Eacham.

By Ellie Fink

The iconic blue crater Lake Eacham has seen some strange changes and locals are wanting answers.

The issue was exposed by local swimmer Melissa Masters who posted her concerns about the health of the lake on the Tablelands Unite Facebook page, generating a flurry of posts from other lake users who shared her concerns about the temperature of the water and particularly how it was being affected by sunscreen. 

Melissa has been swimming in the popular swimming hole for 40 years and said that she has never seen the lake in such a bad condition. 

“We always arrive early in the morning to avoid the rush and we noticed sludge like scum across the surface of the water, the type of stuff you would fi nd in a swamp,” she said. 

“I almost didn’t want to swim because of it but I made my way through it out to the middle and noticed there was no temperature change. 

“Usually during summer the surface is warm but when you get to the centre it was so cold that I used to look like a Smurf!”

After diving under, Melissa said she noticed no difference in temperature and that the warmth continued down for as far as she could dive. In addition to the warm temperature of the water and slimy surface, Melissa was also shocked to see two dead fish floating across the surface. 

“I only saw two fish but after posting on the Facebook page, I learned that there had also been a few in Lake Barrine that same day,” she said. 

“It’s really unnatural to see this, they looked like silver perch floating there. 

“It was almost as though the lake is sick, and a lot of locals think so too, and we would like answers.” 

Almost 90 people have commented on the post, backing up Melissa’s claims, especially in regard to sunscreen slick and temperature. 

“I saw an oily slick of sunscreen on the lake surface about eight summers ago and haven’t been back in the water… I truly believe we need to keep out of Lake Eacham for a few years… to rebalance itself,” one person posted. 

“(My husband) mentioned how gross the sludge was on the top of the water and after 30 years of swimming there (he) won’t get back in – sunscreen?” another commented. 

“I know what you mean about it being warm, years ago you literally lost you breathe until your body temperature adjusted and now it’s like walking into a warm pool,” another said. 

Melissa also mentioned that the iconic teal colour of Lake Eacham had slowly faded and become nothing more than a green sluggish colour and, in some areas, just grey. 

“Someone on Facebook said that it may be an algae bloom and I can understand that as I was itchy after I got out of the water and I have never felt like that coming out of the water ever,” Melissa said. 

Despite the many comments on the FB post by people concerned by the lake’s condition, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has not received any reports about changes to the lake. 

“QPWS has not received any reports of changes in colour or temperature to the Crater Lakes and is also unaware of any changes to the lakes associated with seismic or volcanic activity,” a spokesperson said. 

“QPWS encourages visitors to practice safe swimming practices and the careful use of sunscreens. Rangers regularly maintain access areas to ensure any environmental damage caused by visitors using the facilities are kept to a minimum.”

They say that they will not be carrying out any tests but any concerning changes in the water quality can report it to QPWS on 13 GOV (13 74 68).

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