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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Cayuga Lake Temperature Profiles!

As of November 2, Cayuga Lake has undergone its fall "turnover".  Cold water from deep in the lake is rising to the surface, and observers may have noted an "earthy" smell to the lake, as organic matter and nutrients have come with that deep, cold water!  The winds of tropical storm Sandy certainly muddied the waters, but data collected through the year, enabled us to anticipate this event. 

Below is a set of water temperature profiles, compiled from data collected by students throughout the year aboard the Floating Classroom's MV Haendel.  Data was collected using a calibrated Hydrolab (brand) remote sensor.  Our thanks to the City fo Ithaca Water Department and to Tompkins County Soil & Water for providing access to this equipment!


This image shows temperatures from the lake surface (top) to 40 meters, with depth increasing along the Y-axis.  Temperatures (in Celcius) are plotted along the X-axis, increasing as we go to the right.  Click on this image for a slide show of changes through the year!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Students in Professor Katherine McComas' class on Community Engagement, in Cornell's Department of Communication selected the Hydrilla infestation and the Ithaca community's response as their focus for the fall semester. They cruised with the FC, and volunteered for some fascinating activities in their pursuit of insights into the experiences of engaged community-members. You can read about their exploits on the class blog, Community Engagement in Hydrilla Risk Management. Check it out! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hydrilla Survey - Initial Outcomes

Quick update on hydrilla survey work conducted over the summer in Cayuga Lake- The Floating Classroom, Ichthyology Associates & Racine-Johnson completed a survey of nearly 1500 sites distributed throughout the south end of Cayuga Lake and found no hydrilla specimens!  This is great news.

Meanwhile, herbicide treatments continue in Cayuga Inlet, and have been expanded to the mouth of the Inlet at the lighthouses.  This is in response to the discovery of one hydrilla specimen along the base of the concrete wall heading into the lake. 

For details, go to

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fresh Water Jellyfish in Cayuga Inlet?

Well, not exactly, but members of the Ithaca and Danby Rural Youth Program discovered a huge mystery creature in Cayuga Inlet by the Farmers' Market, which turns out to be a "Bryozoan".  Rather similar to a jelly, and somewhat similar to a coral, although not related. 
Bryozoan "Blob" from Cayuga Inlet.

Bryozoan "statoblast" under microscope on the FC.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Volunteer Hydrilla Monitoring Begins!

We hosted our first hydrilla volunteer monitors today... and they absolutely rocked the lake!  We covered 23 sample sites (46 samples collected) and really high-quality data collected.  THANK YOU to all 9 of today's volunteer crew.  The lake is in good hands!  More pix on our Facebook site!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Herbicide Application Competed!

As of 9:00pm last night, the application of the herbicide Endothall was completed on Cayuga Inlet, and the inlet should be open to boating today.  Please be sure to head the instructions on the yellow warning signs, however!  Details are available at  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

HYDRILLA - We Need Your Help!

The Future For Cayuga??
Last night's public meeting on hydrilla in the Cayuga Inlet focused largely on meeting permitting requirements for upcoming herbicide applications.  Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that other aspects of the proposed hydrilla plan are in danger of not happening at all. 

Monitoring, in particular, is critical, as we do not know (a) the extent of the hydrilla incursion, or (b) the present character of the plant community in southern Cayuga Lake.  Without this information, we will not be able to assess the impact or efficacy of herbicide applications to our lake and water supply.  In fact, the presence of hydrilla in the lake itself, would tell us that the use of herbicides in the Inlet is nearly pointless, and hydrilla will simply return to the inlet from the lake.

A good part of the problem here stems from the fact that our State Senators, Nozzolio, Seward & O'Mara have failed to follow through on funding promised back in March!  Further, our local officials are all too willing to wait for the State to pick up the tab... but ultimately it will be our community that pays to price if hydrilla gets out of hand. 

Our State reps., and our local elected officials need to hear from you on this!  We've posted letter templates and contact info on www.floatingclassroom.netLet's make some noise!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ScienCenter Cruises Cayuga!

Alberto and young science monsters
 setting up water flow tests with gravel,
sand and lake-bed sediments.
We hosted Alberto Lopez, museum educator from the ScienCenter on today's eco-cruise!  Full boat of happy, inquisitive people and an absolutely perfect day on the lake!  Our intrepid young and old scientists did a great job and we want to extend our thanks to Alberto for a job well done!

Guests got to explore the boat and learn the ways of water during "Where Does Water Go?"  We discovered it takes along time for water to leave the ocean!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Calendar and charter information at !

Hydrilla Monitoring Teams Forming!  Individuals & groups can join lake monitoring cruises during June & July.  Training provided.   Get Details!

Internships:  We are accepting inquiries.

Friday, May 4, 2012

First Cruise of 2012 - Diatoms Galore!

April showers held off to the last minute, but finally lake levels are rising and we're on the water!  Students from Dr. Kelly Wessell's Ecology class at TC3 boarded the Floating Classroom for our first cruise of the year - beautiful day on the water with temps in the mid-60s. 

With so little runoff so far this year, water clarity is high- 7m Secchi Disk readings in deep water- and spring is progressing slowly in Cayuga.  Nevertheless, there is alot going on!  DIATOMS are the story of the day.  In all of our samples, populations of tiny asterionella and fragillaria are booming right now.   The BioFresh blog offers an excellent introduction to these incredible living fossils, and features this cool animation and haiku!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and the Hydrilla Task Force will host 2 workshops for those interested in assisting with volunteer monitoring for hydrilla on Cayuga Lake this year.  Once trained, teams and individuals will be invited to participate in Floating Classroom monitoring cruises and will be able to borrow equipment to conduct their own surveys.  You only need to attend one workshop!

Thursday, May 3, 9:00am-noon
Sunday, May 5, 3:00-6:00pm
Merrill Family Sailing Center, 1000 E. Shore Drive, Ithaca (both days)

Contact to register.  GET TRAINED!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Each winter, Cayuga's water level is lowered 4 feet in anticipation of spring runoff.  With no snow and very little rain this spring, the Lake remains over two feet below normal.  Until the water comes up, the MV Haendel cannot access docks at the south end of Cayuga. 

We hope to open our cruise season Sunday, May 6, at Ithaca's Water Week celebration.  Ithaca Farmers Market.  1-hour cruises at 11:00 and 12:30, and a 2-hour eco-cruise at 2:00pm.  See you there!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Awesome Day at BJM Science Fair!

Alison and Bill had a super time today at the Beverly J. Martin Science Fair!  The theme of this year's fair was CHANGE.

Our fifth buddies created trout illustrations and a great poster
charting the change of their BROWN TROUT.
Students from pre-K to 5th used their knowledge of insects and dichotomous keys to learn about insects that spend most of their lives living in our streams.   The insects are great food for trout, and tell us the water is clean.
Alison (CU Intern) helps a young scientist identify a specimen.
It's a Stonefly Larva!
After 2 or 3 years, these insects CHANGE- they go through metamorphosis, and emerge from the stream as flying adults! Its all about CHANGE!   Thanks to Ellie and Leo, and the staff at BJM for all their work to put this together- see you next year!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012