They dive at the Tête d’Or to explore the unknown lake bottoms

The lake of the Tête d’Or park, this June 4, 2020. – E. Frisullo / 20 Minutes

  • An exploration of the bottoms of the Tête de Or lake in Lyon is underway to assess the biological richness of the site, dug by the Canuts.
  • An inventory of flora and fauna that has only incomplete data dating back to 1974.
  • The Odysseus association is conducting this exploration and is planning a documentary on this operation.

As much to tell you at the outset, the golden head of Christ hidden in the waters, according to legend, remained in the depths. However, the lake has already revealed some of its secrets. From early morning this Thursday until Friday evening, a dozen people have invaded the waters of the lake in the Tête d’Or park In Lyon for an in-depth exploration of this 17 hectare site, the last knowledge of which dates back to the 1970s.

Surveyors, divers and naturalists have explored the various areas of the lake, dug by the Canuts 160 years ago, as part of a project by Odysseus 3.1. This Lyonnaise association crosses the region, France and the world to explore the flora and fauna and raise public awareness of the preservation of nature. A goal that guides the work in progress
at the Tête d’Or park.

“This site is a link between the city, the land and the water. Such a rich and complex environment is rare in the city, “said Honorary President Yves Paccalet, who followed the expeditions of Commander Cousteau, of which he was the writer. “There is no equivalent elsewhere in France, with a lake of this size in the city center.” The Lyon exploration aims to identify the species of fish, birds, small mammals, and flora that inhabit the lake and the banks to study the ecological richness of the site and assess possible threats. “This inventory will allow us to see how these species interact, if there are invasive species, how the bottom of the lake has evolved (sedimentation)”, adds Lionel Rard, founder of the association.

Divers explored the lake in the Tête d’Or park in Lyon on June 4, 2020. – E. Frisullo / 20 Minutes

When he goes up the water this Thursday, like the other divers, this Lyonnais has sparkling eyes. “I live at La Guillotière in the 7th arrondissement. When I saw the pictures of the Berges du Rhône recently or the waters of the Rhône, filled with rubbish, I was worried about what we could find here. But diving into the lake reassured me, “he says. In the waters of the Golden Head, however mistreated by the storms of the night, he observed long catfish, perch, fry, European crayfish. “It is a good sign to see them, it is that there is life as expected. The waters are pretty clear, which is a sign that they are of fairly good quality. “

A fairly preserved site

From the depths, a few chairs were brought up, a bicycle was seen near the Island of Remembrance which serves as the team’s base camp, and quite a few cans and bottles were found. “But overall, there is little pollution, no waste. There are few traces of homo sapiens in I do anything mode. The Canuts’ work has been fairly well respected. ” A finding shared by Vincent Maran, biologist, vice-president of the French Federation of studies and underwater sports.

The lake of the Tête d'Or park, this June 4, 2020.
The lake of the Tête d’Or park, this June 4, 2020. – E. Frisullo / 20 Minutes

Beneath the surface of the lake, this scientist encountered large poles, carp and even a large turtle, probably abandoned there like so many others, years ago, by one of the park’s visitors. “It’s an environment that is rich and fairly preserved. If with our images captured in the lake we manage to tell the general public that it is not just a surface of water but an important living environment to preserve, it will be good, “he explains.

From their dives, Odysseus members all brought back photos or videos. A documentary on exploration is planned to raise public awareness of the beauty of this site frequented each year by millions of walkers. The mapping of the lake will be made available to the city’s green spaces service and may be supplemented in the future by other naturalists or researchers. Similar work should be carried out more than 6,000 km away. “In Lake Central Park, which is the twin of the Golden Head,” says Lionel Rard. When they were created, in the middle of the 19th century, the engineers, landscapers and architects of the two sites had exchanged a lot. “Doing this same exploration in Manhattan will be a nod to history,” laughs the diver.

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