Mercury in the Great Salt Lake

This recent article on KSL.com has me a little worried about attempting some swims in the Great Salt Lake this summer. I can deal with salt and brine shrimp...but mercury?

Does anyone know if the mercury is concentrated in any particular part of the lake or is it everywhere? It must not be an issue around the beaches where swimming is allowed, but what about in the main body of the lake?


Gords said...

I too had once read about the levels of Mercury in the Great Salt Lake and was concerned. So I wrote a letter to Utah State Parks - Great Salt Lake and got the following back which is very encouraging!


Although Great Salt Lake has elevated levels of Mercury, the elevated levels are mostly concentrated to specific areas. These levels should pose no threat to your adventure. People swim in the Great Salt Lake on a regular basis.

Most of the warnings about Mercury in Great Salt Lake are for pregnant women to not eat a specific duck that migrates through here.

I don't know when you are planning on swimming the lake. During the winter the lake is too dangerously cold as it will drop down to 24 degrees (well below freezing).

Summer temperatures will climb to over 80 degrees.

Swimming in the lake is very easy (as long as the seas are calm) as you cant sink. You can't even force yourself under the water.

But when the seas are up, swimming is very tough because of the extreme density of the waves.

hope this helps.


Dave Shearer
Great Salt Lake State Marina

I'm glad he included his phone number cause I'm likely to call him just before going to see if he has any further advice.

Josh said...

Whew! I was worried that we weren't going to be able to swim there this summer. I also thought about trying to contact someone to ask them about potential dangers of swimming in the lake with such high mercury levels. Now I guess I don't have to...thanks!

Are you still thinking May and July to attempt the two swims? Or have your plans changed now because of Bear Lake?

Gords said...

I'm still planning on June 5th for swimming to Fremont Island and August 7th to Stansbury. I'm also going to buy a small boat with a trolling motor on it for a support boat so it's easier for the support crew.

Josh said...

I think June 5th is the same weekend that Sabrina is going to do the Little Red Riding Hood bike ride. I was going to take the boys up and watch her do it, but I could see if my parents could watch them so I can make the swim.

We are going to be at Redfish Lake in Idaho on August 7th so I won't be able to join you for that one.

Awesome about the boat! I have actually been looking around a little for a small boat too.

On a side note, I met this guy online from Oregon who is coming down for Deer Creek to do the 10 mile. He is training for the Channel and was looking for a group to do some ocean training with. I don't know if he has found a group yet, but I can get you his contact info if you are interested in getting in touch with him.