PORTS Program Takes Over Lake Tahoe with Virtual Underwater Programs and More

PORTS Interpreter Angie Edmunds visits a shipwreck in Emerald Bay State Park as she completed her full-face mask certification which will allow her to deliver underwater PORTS Programs. Photo by SoFar Ocean.

In mid-October PORTS Program joined the California State Parks Dive Team for a “Total Tahoe Takeover.” Working with Sierra District interpretive staff, PORTS offered multiple livestreamed programs from Emerald Bay, D. L. Bliss, and Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Parks.

The week’s grand finale included an hour-long underwater PORTS Home Learning Program watched live by hundreds of viewers tuning in from home.

PORTS kicked off the week on Tuesday, October 6, with an underwater program recorded live by a Trident ROV (remote-operated vehicle) with help from the Dive Team and SoFar Ocean. The livestream featured footage of State Parks divers exploring a shipwreck near the pier at Emerald Bay State Park, along with an interview with John Foster, retired senior state archaeologist and cultural resource manager, who is now a current State Parks volunteer.

A state treasure in his own right, Foster shared an abundance of historical information and institutional knowledge with the interpreters and Dive Team throughout the week.

The next day, the Total Tahoe Takeover operation shifted to D. L. Bliss State Park, where divers explored Rubicon Point while the interpreters had a field day livestreaming on PORTS social media. Interpreter Jeremy Lin interviewed State Parks Dive Safety Officer Kenneth Kramer about the services the State Parks Dive Team provides to our parks and state.

Lin then hosted his now-famous “Nature Pop Quiz” program, testing the knowledge of Interpreter Kristen Morris and Wildlife Manager Sarinah Simons in a rapid-fire round of “Grizzly Bear or Bear Grylls?” Later that afternoon, viewers enjoyed a livestream with Interpreter Evan Waterhouse as he walked through a forested area of the park and described tree diversity in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Thursday, October 8, marked the final day of the Total Tahoe Takeover.

Anticipation had been building all week as the team worked toward an hour-long underwater PORTS home learning program from the crystal-clear waters of Emerald Bay State Park. This program marked a significant milestone for the Dive Team and PORTS Program as it featured Marine Protected Area (MPA) Interpreter and PORTS Presenter Angie Edmunds (North Coast Redwoods District) who is the first interpreter to join the State Parks Dive Team.

Earlier in the week Edmunds traveled to Lake Tahoe to train on full-face mask equipment, which will allow her to speak underwater to team members on the surface. With this new certification under her weight belt, Angie delivered her first underwater PORTS Program with help from Ken Kramer, who played the role of cameraman, and Interpreters Kristen Morris and Kaytlen Jackson, who were “topside” (above water) talent. PORTS Program Manager Brad Krey and I (MPA Outreach and Education Project Coordinator) provided technical support throughout the program.

The week finished with livestreams with Waterhouse and Simons, who discussed water clarity and human impacts on Lake Tahoe. Sarinah Simons interviewed Below the Blue, a new organization working to study and clean up plastic pollution in the lake.

The livestreams featured throughout the week are archived and accessible for viewing on the PORTS Program Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The Total Tahoe Takeover proved to be a wonderfully successful collaboration between divisions that resulted in engaging educational interpretation telling the story of our parks’ natural, historical and cultural treasures.