The Clearest Lake in the World

A simple but beautiful picture of a small blue boat floating in a crystal-clear lake set within a backdrop of pristine mountains remains untitled, but you can find this picture on Living Outdoors Facebook page. Indeed, a simple search reveals you can find this picture on various other websites with many different captions and titles. At a glance, it appears to be The Clearest Lake in the World.

Nelson Lakes National Park is located on the South Island of New Zealand. Formed in 1956, it is centered at two large lakes: Rotoiti and Rotoroa. Also located in Nelson Lakes National Park is Blue Lake (known to locals as Rotomairewhenua), which holds the title of The Clearest Lake in the World.

Scientific tests conducted in 2011 concluded Blue Lake, which is spring fed by the waters of nearby Lake Constance, is the clearest natural body of fresh water known to man. Visibility in the lake is up to 80 metres and, as such, the water is considered optically clear, as with distilled water. The lake is characterized by blue-to-violet hues that are seen only in clear natural waters.

Blue Lake is always cold (ranging between 5 and 8 decC). The lakes temperature plays a very important role in its optics and clarity. Most aquatic organisms are cold-blooded, which means they are unable to internally regulate their core body temperature. Therefore, temperature exerts a major influence on biological activity and growth of aquatic organisms. The higher the water temperature, the greater the biological activity. Temperature is also important because of its influence on the chemistry of the water. Chemical reactions typically increase at higher temperatures which affects biological activity as well. Aside from water temperature, the expected impact of pollution is reduced at Blue Lake because of its isolated location and its protected status.

The clear waters are regarded by the local Māori iwi / tribe as tapu or sacred and humans are not permitted to enter the lake (perhaps one of the contributing factors to this lake gaining the title of the clearest lake in the world?). However, in 2013 Klaus Thymann, a Danish photo-journal environmentalist was granted permission to capture the clarity of this lake for the purpose of conservation.

There are many other clear waters scattered throughout the world, though most of them tend to be oceans. There are, however, Jenny Lake in Wyoming, Lake Tahoe in Nevada, Torch Lake in Antrim County, Michigan, glacial-fed Blue River in Argentina, and Arnensee, a lake in Canton of Berne in Switzerland, which is used as a reservoir by Romande Energie. This lake is the actual subject of the blue boat picture I described, above. And, while it may not be titled the clearest lake in the world it is considered to be one of the 35 clearest waters in the world. A picture speaks a thousand words, but nothing says beauty and serenity, to me, like a lonely boat in a see-through lake.

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