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Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Day of Cayuga Explorers!

Today was the last day of camp. We did a full floating-classroom-lake-monitoring-event and did samples with the secchi disk, Van Dorn tubes, Ekman Dredge and Hydrolab. We found that the thermocline (rapid change in lake temperature) was at about 16 meters, and that that area had LOTS of plankton.

We hope to be adding a data tab to this website in the next few weeks to that you can all see all of the information that we're gathering--stay tuned! In the meantime, click on the photo or right HERE for more pictures of camp, and we hope to see everyone on the lake for an ECO-CRUISE!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cayuga Explorers: Day III

Today was our third day of summer camp, and it was a windy one. Our plan for the day was to use the Hydrolab (hi-tech water sampling equipment) that we borrowed to do a transect of the lake, but this proved very hard to do because it was so windy and cold.

We made a few stops with the Hydrolab and got some data at different depths. We also got bottom samples of the lake to see what was growing-- first we found plants, and then as we moved into deeper water, we found mud and zebra mussels. We also got a plankton sample from the surface, and found LOTS of algae growing in it. We're looking forwards to our last day of camp tomorrow! Here is a picture of yesterday's fish-seining fun at Myers Point.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cayuga Explorers: Day II

Today was our second day of camp and boy, were we busy!

We started out with some warm-up activities/brainteasers, and then went up to Myer's Point to do some seine-net fishing. We spent quite a while learning about how to use the seine net and putting our knew knowledge to the test in the water. We caught several kinds of bass, including large- and small-mouthed bass, and one small darter. On our way back from Myer's point, we stopped for a plankton sample.

We also still have aboard the zebra mussel overpopulation experiment we started yesterday. We took three jars full of water and added 50 zebra mussels to one, five to the next, and none to the last. It will be interesting to see whether the jars of water are clarified, but also whether the mussels survive in a jar that is a bit overpopulated. Here's a picture of our jars on day 1. (left jar has 50 mussels, middle jar has five, right jar has none)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cayuga Explorers Session Two!

Today was our first day of this session of camp! We did some art, played some team-building activities, and working on some basic lake sampling. We found some interesting results--while the lake clarity (secchi depth) was only 1.25 meters near the mouth of the inlet, it was 4 meters farther up on the West shore. This might be because of a large concentration of some sort of plant matter (probably blowing onto the lake from on land somewhere) near the surface. It was a fun day, and tomorrow we're going to try to catch some fish with a seine net--I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Floating Classroom is on Facebook!!

If you want to get updates about interesting upcoming events or if you have ideas, questions and comments for us, you can have a look at our Facebook Page!

To find the page, search for "Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom" on Facebook or just click the link on the right-hand side of this blog. 

On the Facebook page, you can post questions or ideas for us to respond to, photos or thoughts from your trip on the Floating Classroom, or anything else you'd like us to see. We're still trying to work out all of the specifics for the page, so if you have any suggestions on that, feel free to post those too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eco-Cruise with Paula Bensadoun

Today we had a great Eco-Cruise/ Art Cruise with local artist Paula Bensadoun. There were many people on the boat, and many of them drew wonderful pictures of the lake plants, trees and clouds with the help of Ms. Bensadoun. We saw large "forests" mostly composed of eelgrass, and we also found Elodea (a native plant) and Eurasian Milfoil (an invasive species). The weather was beautiful, and it was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cornell's RUSS

One of our "landmarks" in the lake is Cornell's RUSS (Remote Underwater Sampling Station)--a weather and water monitoring station on the lake. It provides up-to-date weather information about the lake, so if you're ever wondering how windy it is out there, or what the water temperature is, it's a great resource. The page with the updated information from the station is, and if you would like to learn more about the RUSS, you can visit their main page at

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Camp on the Lake!

Our second session of Cayuga Explorers Camp is happening next week, Tuesday-Friday. The camp leaves from East Shore Marina and is from 8:30-12:30 each day. It is for kids entering 5th grade and up. There are still spaces available!! Click here or contact the Ithaca Youth Bureau for more information.

During each day of camp, we will play team-building games, work on lake sampling and boating skills onboard the Floating Classroom, and do a variety of other activities, often including learning about the legends and history of our lake and working on nature illustration techniques. The camp provides a fun and exciting way to learn about our lake during the summer. Because each session is limited to 24 campers (they are usually smaller, between 12 and 15), we can get to know each kid's interests in the lake pretty well, so we can tailor what we do to what the kids would like to do. It will be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forwards to it!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lansing Harborfest!

We did three short Eco-Cruises from Lansing's Harbor Festival today. Although it was windy we did some plankton samples, secchi disk tests and pH tests. We also got some plant samples (and almost lost a rake!).

For information on lake clarity, click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ScienceCenter Camp!

We went out for two cruises with the kids from the Science Center Camp today. Since it was a bit of a rainy day, we talked a lot about acid rain and how it affects our lake-- and how we are protected by the limestone rocks around our lake. (The picture to the left is of Caroline putting strong acid on several different kinds of rocks to see what would happen). We found out that the pH of the rain was between 6 and 6.5, and that the pH of the lake was between 8 and 8.5. We also got several plankton samples which had many different kinds of zooplankton (tiny animals) in them, although not so many phytoplankton (tiny plants). When we took samples of plants, we found five different kinds in just a small area, including Milfoil and Elodea.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lansing Harborfest!

We're very excited to be a part of Lansing's Harbor festival this year, with four cruises on Saturday afternoon leaving from Myer's Point. For more information about the festival and a complete schedule, click here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last day of camp, Last GIAC cruise

Today was the last day of the water wizards summer camp with youths from Dryden/Freeville and Newfield, and it was also our last program with the GIAC pre-teen green program. This Sunday, some of the youths from the GIAC program will join us for our eco-cruise, along with artist Louisa Sandvik.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last Southside Cruise

In addition to our own camp today, we brought out a group of kids from the Southside Community Center Camp. It was a very hot day, but we still managed to get a lot done. We found that the secchi depth was 5 meters, meaning that light was going into the lake 15 meters, the farthest we've seen in several weeks. We also took plankton samples and did temperature and pH tests at many different depths. We hope to see many of the youths that we took out on the boat back again for one of our eco-cruises.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Flat Rock Rocks!

Our Dryden and Newfield Water Wizards youths spent the morning at Flat Rock on Fall Creek and conducted an assessment of the aquatic invertebrates that live in the stream. Ecologists use the presence of sensitive and tolerant stream invertebrates to assess the health of the stream. Fish use them for food! Based on our assessment this morning, Fall Creek at Flat Rock is in EXCELLENT condition. We found 6 Orders of pollution sensitive insects, and this cool whirligig beetle larvae!
Long Live larry the Leech!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Water Wizzards Day 1

Today was the first day of Water Wizzards camp with middle schoolers from Dryden/Freeville and Newfield. It was a beautiful day on the lake, so after we got started at the farmers market we did many different kinds of lake sampling. Secchi depth was about 3.5 meters (so light penetration was about 11.5 meters). We found continuing small blooms of Microcystis (Pictured to the right.) This potentially blue-green algae can be harmful if it blooms (Lower picture), but it didn't seem to be causing any problems at this point. We're looking forwards to visiting Monkey Run tomorrow, and then we'll be back on the boat on Thursday and Friday... and we hope we don't see this!