“We try to support any research in the lake,” said Lord, who teaches classes at SUNY Oneonta on SCUBA Diving, Environmental Science, Aquatic Pollution and Marine Biology.
The dive team has between half a dozen and ten divers, as well as three to four volunteers who tend for them. In order to dive with the team, a diver must, at the minimum, be certified as an advanced diver.
The team began to turn its attention to the lake’s cultural resources after Zarzynski, an underwater archaeologist, began volunteering with them.
A retired high school teacher from Saratoga, Zarzynski got a second masters degree in archaeology in the 1980’s while he was still teaching.
He was heavily involved in the efforts of the nonprofit organization Bateaux Below, Inc., which discovered and mapped a number of French and Indian War era ships in Lake George, including a seven sided floating gun battery.
After Bateaux Below disbanded, Zarzynski began diving with the BFS Volunteer Dive Team, beginning in spring 2011. Zarzynski brought up the idea of investigating some of the lake’s cultural resources, an idea that Lord was amenable to.
This led to a July 2012 side scan sonar survey of approximately 1/3 of the lake bottom, which Zarzynski paid for out of his own pocket.
“Side scan sonar is the quickest way to identify anomalies on the bottom,” said Lord.
“The idea is, find out what’s there,” said Zarzynski. “My hope is that we’ll find one class of every vessel that was on the lake.”
The survey identified 27 targets for the team to dive on that could be cultural artifacts.
“So far we’ve dove on nine of those underwater targets,” said Lord. “Eight of them proved to be cultural artifacts.”
The other cultural artifacts that the team has dove on are boats of various types, including modern fishing and paddle boats, a runabout and work boats. Zarzynski believes that some of these boats are over 100 years old.