LOS ANGELES — In recent months, falling water levels in Lake Mead have revealed multiple bodies, including the skeletal remains of a likely homicide victim, found in a barrel and sunken pleasure boats.

Now the receding waters have exposed a sunken World War II vessel – a Higgins boat used for beach landings, according to the National Park Service.

The landing craft had at one point been so far underwater that the park service sent divers to the site beginning in 2006. The Associated Press reported that the craft had long been at 185 feet beneath the surface.

Photos show the boat now half submerged, lying on its side.

“The NPS suspects that this WWII surplus craft was commissioned on the lake for various reasons and then partially salvaged before sinking at its current location,” the park service said in an email. “Whether it sank by accident or was deliberately sunk to get rid of a ship that is no longer in use is unclear.”

Details of how the ship ended up at Lake Mead are limited.

“The surplus nature of the craft highlights an earlier era of the lake when Las Vegas and Lake Mead were much more remote and distant from much of the United States, where the relatively inexpensive World War II surplus could be put into use for new peaceful purposes in the park,” the park service said.

The discovery of the boat, while likely to draw the attention of visitors to Lake Mead, is also a reminder of the effects of climate change and severe drought on the Colorado River reservoir between Nevada and Arizona.

Scenes around Lake Mead as persistent drought pushes water levels to record low.

Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, was at about 27% capacity on Friday, getting dangerously close to “dead pool” levels, federal officials said. At this point, about 150 feet below its current level, the lake would fall below its lowest inlet valve, potentially crippling water supplies in the western United States.

The lake is expected to drop more than 26 feet by next July.

In response to falling Colorado River reservoir levels, the federal government is calling for emergency reductions in the amount of water that California and six other western states withdraw from the river in the coming months. ——— (C)2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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