Trip Reports & On-Line Citizen Science

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- public eco-cruises & charters
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Phone: (607) 327-5253


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spring-Back in Full Swing!

Temporary Trip Reports for May 27 & May 31 -
Thanks to students from Newfield's 7th grade and from Beverly J Martin Elementary, we have been able to track some amazing events on Cayuga over the past few days!

The continuing rain storms have resulted in a tremendous flow of water into the lake this spring, and recent warm weather has heated all this water quite quickly. Near-surface temperatures in the south end of the lake rose almost 5 degrees F. in a single day last week, and are now approaching 70 degrees F!

Accompanying the warming water and continuing inflow of nutrients from storm runoff is a burgeoning community of green algae species and rotifers. Samples collected from areas around the south end of the lake and well into deep waters are literally teaming with life, and our Secchi disk readings are showing reduced clarity. Once the sediment settles out, the phytoplankton are limiting water clarity to less than 3 Meters in many locations. Pictures coing soon!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


7th Grade students from Boynton Middle School joined us on the lake today and yesterday (May 24&25) and found that the Spring Clear-Water phase has apparently begun two weeks early on Cayuga Lake this year! The clear-water period marks the point at which rapidly growing plankton populations outgrow nutrient loading, causing a temporary population crash. The resultant lack of plankton in the water causes Secchi disk clarity to rebound from about 3M to well over 5M for a period of days.

Over the past five years, the clear-water phase has jumped around a bit, but appears to be happening earlier, which could signal an impact from global climate change. However, the jury is out. Over such a short time-period, natural variations in weather cannot be ruled out. We'll see what the real story is, but it will take more years of study!

Boynton students noted quite a bit of change on the lake over two days. Sub-surface temperatures rose dramatically in parts of the south shelf, and water clarity continued to decline over most of the south end of the lake, being reduced to 1.5M near East Shore Sailing club! Pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


7th grade students from Chad Devoe's Life Sciences classes traveled to Myers Point Park in Lansing to assess conditions on the lake and in Salmon Creek on May 19 & 20.

Students enjoyed two dramatic days on the lake, observing water quality and burgeoning populations of lake plankton. The plankton were so numerous that they have reduced water clarity to 3 meters! During prior springs, water clarity at this point in May has averaged over 5 meters. Spring is ahead of schedule!

Classes also used
modified Izaak Walton League stream surveys and collected macro-invertebrate samples to assess stream health. All classes found Salmon Creek to score in the "good" to "excellent" range.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

After a week of lake-closures due to high water, the MV Haendel opened the 2011 season on May! With the help of Prof. Kelly Wessel's ecology students from TC3, we've begun our spring lake survey. We've found quite a bit is happening already this spring. With tremendous inflows of warmer water over the past weeks, green algae and many other organisms at the base of the food web are getting an unusually early start. Warm is a relative term, of course, as the main body of lake is just now approaching 50 Deg. F!

We'll continue to track spring developments on the lake this Sunday, May 15, during our 2:30-4:30pm public eco-cruise! One-hour narrated lake tours will also be available at 11:00am and 12:30pm. Call us at 607-697-0166 to make a reservation or learn more about Water Week and other upcoming events.

See you on the Lake!