Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Chladophora in Skaneateles Lake

I went for a swim today in Skaneateles Lake (69 degree F) ...BRRRRR.... it was cold. And I went paddle boarding. Both activities allowed me a fantastic view of the lake bottom. Skaneateles has always been a clear lake - one can see the bottom at depths of 15-20 feet. It is a nutrient poor lake, not much algae or plant life growing. Hence I was surprised to see masses of chadophora clinging to the rocks below.

Like green mermaid hair, the algae appears almost feathery when viewed from a paddle board. Pick it up in your hands though and it feels and looks like green snot. This should make it easy to distinguish from Chara - another algae that clings to rocks. Chara feels like shag carpeting when you walk on top of it and it does not tend to disengage from the rocks and wash up on shore.

Sea Grant has been studying the outbreaks of chladophora on the Great Lakes. The real problem with this filamentous algae is when it washes up on shore, decays and causes a stink.  I grabbed these pictures from the internet to show how it looks underwater and when it washes up on a beach. One theory for the recent nuisance level blooms in the Great Lakes is that the zebra and quagga mussels that invaded decades ago are recycling nutrients in their feces. That, and the die-offs of the mussels and consequential decay also may be feeding the algae.

I am not sure what it is. I don't think Chladophora has ever been a problem on Skaneateles Lake. At least I have never noticed it reach nuisance levels in the ten or so years that I have been swimming near shore. We will just have to wait and see.

On the plus side - a mayfly landed on my swimming partner today. They must be hatching. The cycle begins again.