Gorgeous Green Lake in Austria is a Fleeting Underwater Fairy Tale [32 PICS]

February 27th, 2015 Permalink

Green Lake has been called the “diamond gem” in Austria’s crown due to the natural phenomenon that occurs every spring when the snow melts off the surrounding rugged mountains and park benches, flowers, footbridges, trees and walking paths disappear under water. The very cold but crystal clear water becomes a hot spot for divers who want to experience the exquisite and otherworldly scene. [32 Photos, 3 Videos]

Green Lake underwater bridge

This is Grüner See (Green Lake) in Austria where every spring the ice and snow on the mountaintops melt and part of the park goes underwater; this is when the scuba divers have underwater adventurers where visitors in winter would be walking on dry land. The photographer wrote, “Two weeks ago I was able to walk over this bridge … now everything is under about 6°C (42.8°F) cold water.” Photo #1 by Wolf-Ulf Wulfrolf

Green Lake bank

Green Lake as the bank and the bench disappear under the mountain runoff. Grüner See is located in Austria about five miles from a little resort town of Tragoess. In autumn, Green Lake “dries out almost completely,” but “in the spring the lake is filled with snow-melt runoff,” which gives the lake crystal clear water. Photo #2 by Erhart Christoph

Park bench at Green Lake in Austria

Here’s the park bench without the flooding. Both the bench and bridge disappear under the melt-water every year. “When the snow begins to melt on the mountain pastures all around, then the water goes on a long journey.” It can reportedly take up to two months for the melt to traverse from the rocks of the mountains bordering the road until it finally emerges from underground sources to light” to form “this unique natural treasure.” Photo #3 by Neo_II

Green lake view of mountains

Green Lake is a nature reserve surrounded by the Hochschwab mountains and forests. It’s said there are many beautiful places in Austria, but Green Lake has been called “the most beautiful place in Austria.” Photo #4 by Martin Toedtling

Scuba diving at Green Lake

When the park is flooded, it’s a fantasy land for people brave enough to scuba dive. Diver / photographer Marc Henauer said, “Swimming over the green grass, flowers, paths, rocks and trees was like being in a fairy tale.” Henauer added, “All pictures were taken in natural light without a flash. We only had a very short time to take images when the sun was in a perfect position. Diving is possible only for a month in the spring. Throughout the year the depth of the lake is too low. The visibility is just incredible. Usually you only see water like that this in tropical seas.” Photo #5 by © Marc Henauer / Solent News

Gruner See in May 2014

Gruner See in May 2014. According to Austrian Broadcasting ORF Director Gerhard Draxler, “Austria is a treasure trove of natural beauty, but the crown jewels are located in Styria, and the Green Lake is a sparkling diamond adorning these crown jewels.” Photo #6 by Martin Toedtling

Summer, August at Green Lake

Green Lake in summer. Photo #7 by Florian Orthaber

Scuba diver in Green Lake, Tragoss, Austria

The photographer entered this amazing capture and won third place the National Geographic Traveler Your Shot 2014 photo competition. This photo included his caption of: “Green Lake (Grüner See) is located in Tragöss Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 meters. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks, covers hiking trails, meadows, and trees. The result is a magical diving landscape.” Dan Westergren, National Geographic Traveler Director of Photography, added his thoughts about this winner, “This shot at first seems like just another diver swimming by underwater. But after viewing it for a few seconds the truth begins to sink in. That is not an aquatic plant! How is it possible for a tree to grow leaves underwater? And that looks like a trail—what creature could create a hiking trail at the bottom of a lake? When we chose this picture we didn’t know the particulars of why a view like this exists, but we really wanted to reward the photographer for bringing it to our attention.” Photo #9 by © Marc Henauer

Green Lake in August

Green Lake in August. “The Green Lake is surrounded by forests, is surrounded by rugged cliffs – a unique backdrop, which is reflected in still air in the infinity of water.” Tourism Tragöß’s Carina Tiefenbach explained, “The color comes from the rock at the bottom of the minerals in the water, from all around the forest and the water reflection. The deeper it is, the darker it is.” Photo #10 by Daniela Bergmann

Very green Green Lake

Green Lake is very green in this shot. Photo #11 by Roman Königshofer

Miniaturized Green Lake

Miniaturized version taken during midsummer when the lake was “severely dehydrated.” Photo #12 by Ewood49

October at Green Lake

This shot is how the lake looked during October. In the big picture, if you drill down into this location, then Green Lake is in the town of Tragoess (Tragöß), which has a population of 989. That town is in the Austrian state of Styria, which is the second largest of its nine states and has been called the ‘Green Heart’ of Austria due to its large forests and vineyards. The first “surviving written record” about Tragoess traces back to 1023 when it was mentioned by Holy Roman Emperor Henry II. Photo #13 by Tobias Abel

Green Lake nature reserve in Styria

The area around Green Lake was declared a nature reserve in 2006. Although crystal clear, it can appear murky when crowded with divers stirring up the lake. Photo #14 by Georgiy Shalamov

Green Lake divers in May

The lake is ranked by divers as one of the top European undersea environments due to the phenomenal underwater visibility. Photo #15 by Gstetti

Green Lake divers

The snow-melted water is cold, ranging from about 39 to 46 °F (4 – 8 °C). Photo #16 by Felix Schaller

Diving next to the flooded footbridge

Diving next to the flooded footbridge. Photo #17 by TauchSport_Steininger

Water over the bridge at Green Lake

Water over the bridge, but not completely flooded. Photo #18 by Neo_II

Diving in amazing Green Lake

Capturing his fantastic photos was not easy. Red Bull quoted Henauer as saying, “My wife and I stayed there for seven days,” says Henauer. “We did three dives every day, spending one hour on each dive.” He has other great shots on his site Nitrogenic. There are more “Underwater world created from melting ice” photos by Marc Henauer on Solent New. Photo #19 by © Marc Henauer / Solent News via Reddit

Diver at Green Lake

Green Lake reaches a maximum water level of about 39 feet (12 m). Photo #20 by Gstetti

Underwater Grüner See

After the snow melts, the cold, clear water in Green Lake doubles in size from about 21,528 to 43,055 square feet (2,000 – 4,000 sq. m). Photo #21 by TauchSport_Steininger

Flooded grasses of Green Lake

Lake Lubbers said, “Exquisite yet fleeting are the words that describe Austria’s Green Lake;” and we agree. “One of the most popular activities is scuba diving along the submerged trails. The clarity of the water lends a surreal quality to the underwater landscape, with submerged benches and bushes giving the impression of a slightly-distorted looking glass world. Diving at Green Lake is controlled, and divers must possess the appropriate diver ID card. A hotel-restaurant near the shore offers the only legal access for divers to enter the water and also provides air tank refills and rudimentary gear rental. Underwater photography is popular at Green Lake.” Photo #22 by TauchSport_Steininger

Winter reflection at Green Lake

During winter, Green Lake is a very shallow 1 – 2 meters, or 3 – 6 feet. Geographically speaking, Tragoess is located on the top of the valley and it surrounded by the mountains Trenchtling which is 6,827 ft (2,081 m) above sea level, Pribitz which is 5,180 ft (1,579 m) above sea level, and Messnerin which is 6,020 ft (1835 m) above sea level. Those mountains are are part of the Hochschwab (high Schwab) Range in the Northern Limestone Alps of Austria. That makes for a lot of snow-melt come spring, which transforms Green Lake’s surrounding walkways, footbridges and park benches into a fleeting underwater fairy tale that calls out to divers around the world. Photo #23 by x.7994

Green Lake at Styria, Austria

Green Lake and the surrounding area are a conservation area, meaning open fires and camping on the lake, as well staying in mobile homes, are “strictly prohibited within this area” so as to not destroy the “intact nature.” Photo #24 by Neo_II

Wildlife at Green Lake

“The lake supports a variety of fauna such as snails, water fleas, small crabs, fly larvae, and different species of trout. The flora is not abundant because of the rocky bottom of the lake, but the underwater views are amazing nonetheless,” according to Stunning Places. Photo #25 by Gstetti

Green Lake Panorama

Panoramas of the lake in different seasons. Green Lake is about 1,312 feet long by 656 feet wide (400 meters long by 200 meters wide). Photo #26 by x.7994 & #27 by Wolf-Ulf Wulfrolf

Shades of green at Green Lake in Austria

Shades of green at the scenic gem. It’s said “the depth of the green lake is very much dependent on the season – just before the summer, the lake is at its best.” Photo #28 by Roman Königshofer & #29 by Roman Königshofer

Green Lake in June

Green Lake in June. We came across an unusual tidbit when researching the area; apparently there is still yodelling in Styria and that’s something you rarely hear about in the USA. Different yodels mean different things and it functioned “as a means of communication in mountain areas, from farm to farm, from lodge to lodge, and across the valleys.” Did you know: “Yodelling is one of the oldest forms of communication there is – and probably the loudest that can be achieved with the voice alone…Cattle, too, react to such a call – at least with a shake of the head – and this sets the bell hung around the animal’s neck ringing, as a signal to the herdsman or dairyman.” Photo #30 by Wolf-Ulf Wulfrolf

Grüner See in Tragöß

Prime time to see the underwater phenomena is typically spring, although it’s a hot-spot for tourists from May to early summer. According to Bergsee, “The water level depends on the yearly snow and rainfall. By fall, the water level goes down slowly until in winter the lake nearly disappears completely. This cycle can only take place every year, because of our stabile environnemental situation.” Photo #31 by Herzi Pinki

Green Lake and Mountains

While documents exist from the year 1023, it’s believed “Tragoess was already inhabited by the Celts. After the barbarian invasions, the area was inhabited by Slavs in the 6th century, who built their houses not on the valley floor, but on the slopes above. The name is probably of Slavic origin, ‘tre’ for three and ‘gozd’ for forest; ‘three forest’ may refer to the three major peaks of Trenchtling, Messnerin and Pribitz.” Photo #32 by Wolf-Ulf Wulfrolf

The lake is not just popular for the sport of scuba diving. A “daredevil climber smashed a ‘waterlining’ world record – tiptoeing an incredible 820.2 feet (250 meters) along a slack line above a beautiful mirrored lake. Extreme sports champion Mich Kemeter, 25, walked the length of almost three football pitches to complete the energy-sapping challenge. It took the Austrian almost 20 attempts – and several falls – over 20 days to break his own record at the Green Lake in Tragoess, Austria. Video #1 by David Unterberg via Mich Kemeter

We love the shots of flowers under the water. This video was shot when the water level was 8 meters (26 feet). Video #2 by Globaldivemedia.com via Andrius Fede

Grüner See is not just for scuba diving but also for freediving. About 1:30 minutes into this video, you’ll see messages spelled out by stacked rocks on the bottom on the lake. Video #3 by Patitopupa

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