Third Lake Mead Body Was Found Encased in Mud at Shore of Swimming Area

A body has been found near a popular swimming area of Lake Mead, making it the third set of human remains to be found due to the lake's dropping water levels.

The National Park Service (NPS) was alerted to a body being found on the Swim Beach in Lake Mead National Recreation Area on July 25.

"Park rangers are on scene and have set a perimeter to recover the remains," said the NPS in a statement. "The Clark County Medical Examiner has been contacted to determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing."

Newsweek has contacted the NPS.

Lake Mead Body Found
A formerly sunken boat sits high and dry along the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, on May 10, 2022, near Boulder City, Nevada. Another body has surfaced at Lake Mead, this time in a swimming area where water levels have dropped as the Colorado River reservoir behind the Hoover Dam recedes due to drought. AP Photo/John Locher

According to Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse, the body was partially submerged in mud at the new water line of shore, north of Hemenway Harbor marina. The sex of the body and cause of death have not yet been confirmed.

Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the U.S. at maximum capacity, has seen enormous drops in its water levels due to an ongoing drought scorching the western states. It was filled to 27 percent of its full water capacity as of July 18, with the Colorado River in its entirety, which provides around 97 percent of Lake Mead's inflow, sitting at 35 percent of its capacity. Images taken from space by the NASA Earth Observatory's Landsat satellites show the stark difference in the shoreline of the lake between 2000 and 2022.

Lake Mead was formed by damming the Colorado River with the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, with the huge reservoir spanning the states of Arizona and Nevada. Providing drinking water, water for industry and agriculture, as well as hydroelectric power to the millions of people living in the nearby states, Lake Mead's dropping water levels have been concerning.

One unexpected result of the lake's receding shorelines is that three bodies have now been found on the new stretches of unsubmerged ground since May 2022.

This newest discovery of human remains was spotted encased in mud near a swimming spot, possibly due to a drowning. Another body was discovered on May 7 in a newly uncovered sand car near Callville Bay.

While the cause of death of these bodies has not been confirmed, they may have been as a result of drowning: Lake Mead sees multiple deaths by drowning each year, including eight deaths in 2020 alone. Even strong swimmers can drown due to hidden currents under the water, or as a result of cold water shock. The mammalian dive reflex may also contribute towards drownings in lakes and rivers: this reflex triggers us to take an automatic deep breath when our faces are submerged in cold water, which can cause water to enter the lungs.

However, the cause of death of one of the other bodies was potentially more malevolent.

The body of one man was found on May 1 inside a rusted barrel with bullet wounds, also in the Hemenway Harbor area. This case is currently being investigated as a homicide, and due to the fact that the man's clothing dated to the mid-1970s to early 1980s, many have speculated that it may have been a result of organized crime.

As the lake's water levels continue to drop, experts predict that the shoreline will recede a further 20 to 30 feet by September 2023.