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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BJM & Dryden Kids Together on the Lake

Thanks to the Village At Ithaca, Ithaca Friends of Pete Seeger, and the Town of Dryden, 20 students participating in after-school programs at BJM and Dryden Elementary schools completed a three-week "Water Wizards" program on Tuesday. We had an awesome time getting to know each other, checking out what's growing on the bottom of the lake, testing the waters and learning a little about our Lake's history. With help from Pamela Goddard, we even learned a traditional ballad, "Strike the Bell" to see us through our day's work!

Our samples confirmed much of what we learning during Sunday's cruise. Water temperatures are in the mid-60s below the surface and early-spring diatoms have all but disappeared. We did have the first spotting, however, of the dreaded Eurasion Water Milfoil, pulled from 12 feet of water in the middle of the south shelf!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spring On Cayuga!

Our thanks to everyone who came out for our Sunday, June 14 Eco-Cruise. Beautiful afternoon to think about spring on the lake, huh? Cayuga has been slow to warm up this year, and the succession of tiny (planktonic) plants and animals living in the water, as well as larger plant communities on the bottom, have responded accordingly. Here's what we observed:

Our first stop was off of the southwest shore, in 6 meters of water. Water clarity was running about 2.8 meters- a little less clear than last week, but not much. Not surprisingly, we collected samples of two species of aquatic plants growing from the bottom- native coontail, and non-native curly pondweed. The pondweed, in particular, is an early grower, and appeared to be about 1 meter tall.

Our second stop was out in the middle of the lake, where we found slightly better clarity - about 3.4 Meters. Clarity has been running 5-6 meters in recent weeks, so this is a little murkier than I might have expected; perhaps attributable to recent heavy rains. We measured temperatures in the mid-60s several meters below the surface for the first time this year, however, and green algae are responding with faster growth rates. Things are finally starting to pop! Tim Phillips conducted a full-depth temperature profile sample with Cornell's SCAMP unit- results are to the right: The plot indicates decreasing temperature as it moves to the left; note the rapid change between 5 and 10 meters.

Finally, we hit the southeast corner of the lake, near the East Shore Marina. Conditions were similar to other locations, but a quick aquatic plant dredge brought us a dense growth of curly pondweed (pictured to the right.), running over 2 meters tall. I would expect to see this plant breaking the surface in the next week or so! It will begin to fragment around July 4, and mats will float around the surface of the lake and disperse over the following week. Click on this photo to see more images of plants found in Cayuga Lake.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cruising from Aurora - June 3

After a day on the lake with classes from Waterloo Middle School, the Maxwell Academy & the Frontenac School, the crew grabbed a tasty dinner at the Fargo and headed back to the boat for an evening eco-cruise with 20 residents of Aurora and the surrounding area.

We shared thoughts on the health of the lake and continued our study of seasonal events on the lake by conducting basic sampling to follow up on the day's student findings. One thing that seems a little unusual this year is the continuing domination of cold-water organisms far into the spring. During 2007 & 2008, the cold water diatom asterionella (pictures in postings below) declined in late May as the water warmed, but this year it is persisting. Unusual, but not unheard of... We also caught our first glimpse of zebra mussel veligers today. These are the larval stage of one of our most significant Cayuga Lake invaders, and indicate the arrival of a new generation.

Special thanks go to our cruise collaborators- the United Ministry of Aurora and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network. Newly appointed Cayuga Lake Steward Hilary Lambert joined us to facilitate a discussion about community and individual opportunities to work on behalf of the Lake. We will need everyone's help to keep serving every community around the lake in the coming years!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

DeWitt Middle School

May 5, 2009
Time(s): 10 AM – 2:45 PM
We sailed from:
Sampling Site: Taughannock State Park
Latitude: 42o 33.36’ Longitude: 76o 34.00’

Field Conditions:
Air temperature: 50 degrees F
Weather: overcast
Lake Conditions: calm to small waves, ripples
Lake Activity Level: low

Secchi Disk Measurement(s): 7 - 8 (meters)
Plankton Observations:
a. Organisms observed: diatoms, calanoid copepods
b. Most numerous organisms: diatoms

Water Characteristics:
Depth Temp. pH
0 44.7 8.0
3 43.9 7.5
5 44.3 8.0
7 44.3 8.5
20 42.9 8.0
30 44.6 8.0
50 42.4 8.0

Dewitt Middle School Trip Report

Name of School/Group: DeWitt Middle SchoolDate: May 1, 2009
Time(s): midday
We sailed from:
Sampling Site: Taughannock State Park Latitude: 42o 33.36’ Longitude: 76o 34.00’

Field Conditions:
Air temperature: 51 - 61 degrees F
Weather: overcast
Lake Conditions: calm
Lake Activity Level: low

Secchi Disk Measurement(s): 8 (meters) (average)
Plankton Observations:
a. Organisms observed: diatoms, calanoid copepods
b. Most numerous organisms: diatoms

Water Characteristics:
Depth Temp. pH
0 44.7 8.0
3 43.9 7.5
5 44.3 8.0
7 44.3 8.5
20 42.9 8.0
30 44.6 8.0
50 42.4 8.0

Lansing High School Trip Report

May 11 & 12: We collected data on many aspects of the lake's environment including depth, water clarity, temperature, and types of organisms in the water. Measurements were taken in the middle of the lake, just North of Meyer's park, at 42° 32.125' North latitude, 76° 33.723' West longitude. On May 11, conditions were calm and sunny; On May 12th, conditions were overcast and windy. Lake surface on both days was relatively calm with a few small waves and ripples.
The average air temperature recorded was 54.8 degrees, with a range between 46 and 64 degrees at different times in the day. Water pH and temperature samples were taken at varying depths, some as deep as 75 meters below the surface. Listed below is a range of temperatures and pH readings at various depths:
Depth(m) - Temperature(F) - pH
1 - 46 - 8
5 - 47 - 8
20 - 46 - 8.5
30 - 47 - 8
40 - 43 - 8.50
45 - 43 - 8
75 - 42 - ** = no reading

Secchi disks, the devices used to read light penetration through the water, indicated an average visual depth of 4.78 meters, with reading ranging from 4.25 to 6 meters. These readings categorized Cayuga lake as Mesotrophic. Actual sunlight penetration depths are closer to twice the visual depth.

Plankton samples were also collected. Samples were taken from depths ranging fromhalf a meter to 20 meters, with an average sample depth of 9.3 meters. Most samples were collected at 8 meters. At 10 meters, samples collected contained lots of plankton and algae, coloring the water green. Samples at depths shallower than five or deeper than 10 were mostly clear, containing very little life. The most common types of phytoplankton found were Diatoms, small plankton that resemble snowflakes. The most common types of zooplankton were Calanoids, which look like very tiny fish with feelers.
Posted by Mrs. Stone at 2:17 PM

Monday, June 1, 2009

Enfield 5th Grade Trip Report

Date: May 29, 2009
We sailed from: Taughannock Park, at 9:30 and 11:30am
Sampling Site: Half way between Taughannock and Myers Point, in 280 feet of water!
Field Conditions:
Air temperature: 58-60 degrees F
Weather: Clearing, but cloudy after morning rain.

Lake Conditions: Calm, light waves with a south breeze building
Secchi Disk Measurement(s): 3.5-5.5 (meters)

Plankton Observations: Asterionella, a photosynthetic diatom, were the most numerous plankton on the water. However, some green- round volvox and long filaments were also present. We learned that, as the water warms, these types of algae will grow faster. We also saw lots of very small animals called rotifers, which eat the diatoms and green algae, and a few copepods.

Water Observations: We tested the temperature of the water a many depths and found that it gets colder as you go deeper. The surface temperature was 52 degrees F. but is quickly went down to about 47 degrees at 5 meters. Below that, it got even colder from 15 to 20 meters deep. This is probably because this is the lowest point where sun light can get to warm the water. While our Secchi disk readings were only about 5 meters on average, classes earlier in the week had readings as deep as 8 meters, which indicated that light could penetrate to at least 16 meters- twice the Secchi disk reading. Maybe the wind and rain from the day before increased the cloudiness of the water a little bit.

What Was Cool? The water that came our of Taughannock Creek was very cloudy, and we could see it flowing into the lake. The lake water was so clear during our morning cruise that we could actually see a wall of cloudy water from the Creek below the surface. Captain Stephanie positioned our boat right over the line between Creek water and lake water, and we measured the clarity on boat sides of the boat. 8 meters on the starboard and only 1 meter on the port! We talked about which water offered a better habitat for trout or for smaller fish and decided the edge of both habitats might be a great place to go fishing!

We also measured the acidity of the water on the pH Scale, and found that Cayuga Lake had a pH of 7.3 today. It is not acid because the pH is above 7, which is neutral. The limestone that Emily the Park Naturalist showed us protects our lake from acid rain by neutralizing the acid- remember all those bubbled when the acid touched the limestone?