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Cruise Log

Dewitt Middle School - June 13 & 14
Water Column Profile:  The acidity level in lake water ranged from pH 7.6 at lower depths to 8.6 near the surface.  Chloride and suspended solids levels were within normal ranges (40 parts per million and 390 parts per million, respectively) and dissolved oxygen levels were near the saturation point, between 8 and 9 parts per million.  Water profile as follows.  We asked the question, why if there 10 meters of warm water below the sunlit zone?  Given that water clarity has not been better in the recent past, it is not likely that sunlight directly penetrated below 15 meters.  Thus, our best guess is that wind has been missing the water – what do you think?

The following plankton types were also observed:  
Phytoplankton:  The Diatoms - asterionella, tabellaria and fragilaria;  Green Algae - Volvox, Botryococcus and Dinobryon (blooming and has been impacting water quality for the past week!); Filamentous Green Algae – species not specifically identified, but present.
Zooplankton:  Rotifers keratella, asplanchna, synchaeta – these organisms dominated the zoo-plankton population.  Also, Branchiopods bosmina, cyclopoid copepods, calanoid copepods, nauplia (larval stages of copepods) and Zebra mussel larvae, called veligers.


Sampling Site #1: West Shore, 1 mile north of inlet
Sampling Site #2: East Shore, 1 mile north of inlet
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A second objective was to think about the affect of land on water quality. Many students spoke about how garbage and pollution could be carried to the lake from the land, and that soil and sediment is also carried to the lake. That’s what tends to make the inlet water look brownish after a rain. We learned that the soil and rock that mixes with the water also helps protect it, though. We tested the acidity of recent puddles of rainwater, and compared it to the pond water at the Ithaca Children’s Garden, Cayuga Inlet water and lake water. We found that, while the rainwater is acidic (the puddle was pH 6.5) the pond, inlet and lake were successively less acidic, with pH’s, respectively, of 7.6, 7.8 and 8.2. The soil and rock help to neutralize the acid, making our lake safe for plants and animals!

Plankton Observations: Today marked an important event for the season, as our observations on both shores, and particularly on the west shore, revealed few or no diatoms. The absences of these phytoplankton which dominate the cooler spring waters signals the arrival of summer on the lake in many ways, as green algae become the dominant plant-plankton now. We also saw many volvox and some other green algae that can actually swim!

Zooplankton- Branchiopods, such as bosmina copepods were quite common, as were a number of rotifer types. The colonial rotifer conochilis was observed for the first time this year, as well! On the whole, it looks like the plankton population is taking advantage of warming water, and the influx of nutrients from recent rains.

June 2 - Seneca Falls 7th Graders cruised with us from the Wells College dock in Aurora, NY today.  It was absolutely beautiful on the lake, and we observed the beginning of the spring "clear water" phase in Cayuga Lake.  Our early bloom of cold-water phytoplankton (diatoms, actually) called asterionella, is rapidly subsiding as the water warms.  Water clarity was measured at 5.5 meters in the middle of the lake, and in warmer waters near the shore, we measured better clarity- 6.5 meters or more.  Expect macrophyte plants to really begin growing in up to ten meters of water now that they have more sunlight exposure!  Special thanks to Seneca Meadows Landfill, Inc. for making this trip possible!

May 27 - Fantastic day on the lake with 7th graders from Newfield Middle School, who have been studying stormwater, watersheds and the upper reaches of the Cayuga Inlet that flows right past thier school.  Coupling their trip onto Cayuga Lake with a visit to the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Plant (Thanks to Ed Gottlieb for a great tour!), the classes focused in particular on the role of Cayuga Lake's ecology on maintaining a safe water supply. 

May 21 & 26 - We completed two introductory cruises with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from the Beverly J. Martin Academic Plus after-school program this afternoon.  We had a ball!

May 19 & 24 - The entire Lansing 10th Grade Biology class joined us for a total of 6 cruises on the lake from Myers Point on these two days.  Photos to come....

May 23 - The Cornell Automated Underwater Vehicle Team ran their first lake-based demo of "Tachyon" today.  Weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances made the outing and adventure, but we'll try again very soon to complete our spring video survey of the south shelf of Cayuga!  Photo at right shows AUV tether running across our props!

May 21 & 22 - Boynton 7th Graders cruised Cayuga on these days, combining the experience with a paddle on Ithaca's Dragon Boats and a visit to Jerr-Del Farms to learn about food production and environmental stewardship.  On the lake, we focused on the relationship between activities on land and the health of our waterways.  What a great experience for these kids, all put together by the Boynton 7th grade teaching team!

May 16 - Our first Community Eco-Cruises of the year for Water Week.  Thanks to the Tompkins County Community Celebrations fund for making these cruises possible!

May 13 & 14 - Groton 7th Graders joined us for a total of four cruises over the course of two days, combined with stream monitoring activities on Salmon Creek.  All conducted at lovely Myers Point Park in Lansing.  Salmon Creek was rated at "good" quality, based on our modified benthic macro-invertebrate index.  The lake was also judged to be in good shape, based on our observations!

May 11 - 6th graders from Tully, NY joined us today as part of their Science Field Trip to Cornell and Ithaca.  They combined an eco-cruise on the lake with a visit to the Synchotron.  Thanks to the Cornell Physics Dept. for making this trip possible!

May 7 - 6th Graders from Dewitt Middle School cruised with us from Taughannock State Park today, as our inaugural lake cruise of 2010!  Thanks to the Environmental Appreciation Days crew- Megan Tifft at Cornell Coop. Ext., Sarah Fiorello at Cornell Plantations and all the volunteers for helping to
put this together!  Also thanks to Yvette DeBoer and the 6th grade team at Dewitt for perserverance and creativity!