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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.

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