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The Monster of Crater Lake

Stay Wild

Story by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison

Photo by Dan Kuras // kurasphoto.com // @dankuras

Wizard Island floats in the middle of Crater Lake like a wizard hat floating in the middle of a lake, but Wizard Island is really the tip of a volcano rising 2,700 feet from the lake floor. The lake was created about 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama erupted. It is the deepest, bluest lake in the USA and the crown jewel of Klamath County, Oregon. 

There are more than 40 caves in Crater Lake National Park, but be careful if you go exploring… you might cross paths with THE MONSTER OF CRATER LAKE (dun-dun-dunnnn)!!!

The first crawdaddy probably splashed into the lake around the same time non-native fish like trout and salmon were tossed in for tourists to catch. Since then, crawdaddies have become monsters destroying the habitat of the peaceful Mazama newt. The newt and crawdaddy eat the same food, live in the same shoreline habitat, and compete for the same sunbathing spots, but the big difference is that crawdaddies eat newts. Crawdaddy claw versus squishy newt paw? No contest.

Park biologists say crawdaddies have taken over 80 percent of Crater Lake’s shoreline. As they invade the lake further, they push the newt closer to extinction. The lake has no stream running in or out, so there is no escape for the newt. This native critter evolved to live in this lake, and can only live in this lake. 

Some believe the Mazama newt’s greatest hope lies in the hands of park resource management, but I think it’s the responsibility of all of us. So how about we get in the car and go hunting for the Monster of Crater Lake? Fishing is encouraged since it helps remove invasive species. You don’t even need a license, and there is no limit to how many of these little monsters you can catch.