Clear Lake is located at the headwaters of the McKenzie River.  It sits right around 3000 feet above sea level and the temperature fluctuates from around 35 to 43°F year-round.  The bottom composition and water sources for this lake all contribute to unbelievably clear water.  Rowing on the surface is more akin to flying across an alien terrain than what you’d typically expect on a mountain lake.  These conditions all contribute to a remarkable albeit challenging SCUBA diving destination.  It is an odd site to see weekenders unloading camping gear alongside divers unpacking tanks and fins.  It’s easy to understand the allure of diving Clear Lake once you drop below the surface.  Exploring the bottom of Clear Lake you will come across a preserved forest frozen in time, carpets of algae, and sunken boats.  Some claim it is possible to experience up to 200 ft. visibility in the lake.  Locals mentioned we were in the midst of a seasonal algal bloom though even so we estimated being able to see over 100 feet.  All of this awe and wonder doesn’t come without a cost.  During our visit the water temperature averaged about 40 °F.  Even with a 7mm semi-dry suit (I was the only non drysuit diver in our group) I was pushing my ability to fight off the cold after 30 minutes underwater.

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This trip was part of our continuation down the path of becoming AAUS certified scientific divers.  Currently in the middle of production on a film about global coral reef decline (coralreefmovie.org) it became essential for us to develop underwater filmmaking skills.  It has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience thus far.  Diving and shooting in varying conditions has really helped us become quicker to adapt and meet the demands of the shooting situation.  In all honesty capturing images underwater has proven to be far more difficult than we could have anticipated.  Our appreciation for what you see in any given BBC ocean documentary has gone through the roof.  Behind every shot is an incredibly skilled camera operator/ SCUBA diver managing an array of variables to capture the stunning images in the given project.  Our humble efforts have yet to reach that level though each dive gets us a bit closer to our goal.

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Equipment Used:

Panasonic GH4

Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm lens

Nauticam NA-GH4 housing

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2 thoughts on “SCUBA Diving Clear Lake, Oregon

  1. Awesome freshwater high altitude dive. I did three dives, the last dive being a moon lit night dive. Water so clear the moon gave off reflected colors of red and greens. During the day you could see the tree’s reflection at the surface. 1000 year old petrified forest cool lava formations. Not much life, saw a few fish, and green algae that grows around the craters and vents where the fresh water comes up from deep in the earth.

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