This week’s wind and temperatures in the low 60s broke up the ice block on Otsego Lake Tuesday, and Wednesday – with the lake open but the coves still iced up – folks, inset, headed down to Cooperstown’s Lakefront Park to take in the Sleeping Lion, considered by some to be among the most famous views in the world. This afternoon, high winds pushed the remaining ice onto the beach at the village’s Three Mile Point Park, giving it the look of a giant icemaker. Thad Wheeler and spouse Francesca Vanasco, Town of Middlefield, were up there checking it out. (Tara Barnwell, Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com
ICE FISHING – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bring the kids out to learn ice fishing from State park staff and NYS DEC ‘I Fish NY.’ Free, registration required due to Covid. Glimmerglass State Park, 1527 Co. Rd. 31, Cooperstown. 607-547-8662 or visit www.facebook.com/GlimmerglassStatePark/
PHOTOGRAPHY – 6:45 a.m. Take a camera to explore Otsego Lake at sunrise with photographer Kevin Gray providing tips on composition, lighting, more. Registration required. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org
PHOTO EXCURSION – 5 p.m. Join photographer Kevin Gray for a walk through the historic village during the Golden Hour at sunset, after the museum is closed to take gorgeous photos. Gray will provide tips on composition, lighting, camera techniques, more. Cost, $17/non-member. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.facebook.com/farmersmuseum/
SUNKEN ISLAND – At 2:41 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, just north of here, one of Sarah Coney’s worst fears was realized.
There in a sieve that was straining a bucket of mud from Otsego Lake’s bottom was a
tiny mussel the SUNY Oneonta biology master’s candidate immediately recognized.
It was a quagga mussel, even more feared than the zebra mussel that arrived in 2008, clogging water pipes and filtering algae from Glimmerglass’ waters that cold water Otsego bass and other valued species depend on for survival.
The quagga is lighter than the zebra; also, the zebra can be placed upright on a tabletop, the quagga rolls over.
“I really didn’t want to see it,” said Coney, a native of Neversink who is preparing her thesis on the return of the American eel to the Upper Susquehanna Basin.
Sunken Island is on the lake’s north end, in a direct line between the Town of Springfield boat launch and the BFS boat house, but the new invasive is expected to spread, and fast.
In five years, “fishermen won’t have much to fish for,” said SUNY Oneonta Biology Lecturer Paul Lord, a researcher at the Otsego Lake Biological Field Station, who was aboard the BFS research craft Anodontoides when Coney made her discovery. “The lake will just get clearer and clearer.”
Both the zebra mussels and quagga mussels are filter feeders, filtering a liter a day of lake water, in the process removing plankton and algae, which other species need.
“These guys are going to filter the water so all biological activity will occur on the bottom and not in the water column,” Lord said. (The water column is the portion of the lake between the bottom and the surface.)
As is its mission, “BFS will be studying the changes that will follow this newest invasive colonization,” said Lord, and will keep the state Department of Environmental Conservation apprised of what it concludes.
When the zebra mussel arrived in 2008, normal visibility in the water was 3 meters “on a really clear day,” he continued, the relative murkiness indicating nutrients that keep a range of lake species healthy.
Since the zebras arrived, that visibility has increased to 6-7 meters, and, the other day, Lord measured 10.3 meters of visibility.
While the clarity may please some swimmers, the way the zebra mussels encrusted shallow water along the lake’s western shoreline created a danger for barefoot swimmers. They also clog water lines and engines.
The zebra has been limited the shallow water, Lord said; the quagga can inhabit the whole lake bottom, even the deep eastern shore that’s been largely free of the zebra variation now.
The lake floor “will look like a broken-up coral reef,” said Lord, “dead shells everywhere.”
The quagga is native to the Dneiper River in the Ukraine, and is believed to have arrived in North America in a freighter’s bilge sailing up the St. Lawrence River.
It was first discovered in 1989 in Port Colborne, on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, and has since populated all the Great Lakes and hopscotched eastward through the Finger Lakes, Cayuga, Seneca.
It’s said a female quagga mussel can produce one million eggs per year; 99 percent die, but 1 percent (10,000) remain.
Lord said it’s likely microscopic mussels were brought to Otsego Lake in a bait bucket, or the bottom of a kayak or canoe that had been in, for instance, Cayuga Lake.
Despite the boat-washing program at Cooperstown’s boat launch at the end of Fish Road, Coney said boat can still enter the lake from hotels around the lake that provide directed access.
PHOTO EXCURSION – 6 p.m. Join photographer Kevin Gray for a walk through the historic village during the Golden Hour at sunset, after the museum is closed to take gorgeous photos. Gray will provide tips on composition, lighting, camera techniques, more. Cost, $17/non-member. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.facebook.com/farmersmuseum/
“There’s a lot of traffic,” said Dave Hubbard, Afton, this afternoon as he removed his boat, top, from Otsego Lake at Cooperstown’s Fish Road. “I imagine everyone is just trying to get outside and do something.” Lake Steward Jared Stauss, inset right, a member of the team that checks boats for invasive species, said 1,800 boats have been inspected this year, triple last year’s 600. “It’s definitely way, way more,” said Stauss. Hubbard was participating in today’s Susquehanna Bass Club’s annual derby; his team caught almost 14 pounds of fish, winning the second-place prize. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
BOAT PARADE – 3 p.m. Get out for the annual ‘We Love Our Lake’ decorated boat parade. This years theme ‘Lets Celebrate – It’s The 4th Of July.’ All boats welcome from human powered to motor powered and all in between. Participants are reminded to practice social distancing. Parade assembles at 3 Mile Point and proceeds on West Side of the Lake to Lakefront Park, Cooperstown. 518-542-6630 or visit otsegolakeassociation.org for info.
COOPERSTOWN – Austin Sears, 72, creator, manager and actor at the Cooperstown Summer Theatre Festival for three decades, exited life’s stage on Dec. 17, 2019, in New York City.
“We met in 1979,” his wife Margarita said in an interview this week. “The 40 years I knew him, it was all Cooperstown. It was all theater. That was his life. That’s what he talked about and did every day – looking for actors, soliciting scripts.”
The curtain went up on July 6, 1984, inside the renovated barn on West Lake Road about a mile south of Glimmerglass Opera. The first performance, Noel Coward’s “Private Lives,” played to a packed house. At the end, it poured, and cars got stuck in the mud looking to exit. “Kirn’s was coming back and forth to pull cars out,” Maggie said.
COOPERSTOWN — Suzanne Smith Dean (Susie), 96, of East Orleans, Mass., passed away peacefully on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019.
She was born on April 15, 1923, in New York City, daughter of Dorothy Bostwick Smith Campbell and W.T. Sampson Smith, Sr. Mrs. Dean spent her early years in that city attending Shipley School and Miss Hewett’s Classes.
She was a member of the Red Cross Nurses’ Aid Corps and later volunteered at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. She was married in September 1942 at St. Thomas Church in Gilbertsville to Dr. John Van Benschoten Dean.
BE INFORMED – 6:30 – 8 p.m. Learn about past, present, future of 2 invasive species in Otsego County. Research Specialist Holly Waterfield presents ‘A Decade of Zebra Mussels: Impacts & Challenges in Otsego Lake.’ Director of Ecological Research Institute Dr. Jonathan Rosenthal presents ‘Emerald Ash Borer: Current Status and the Way Forward.’ Free, open to public. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/be-informed-lecture-series-invasives-species-past-present-and-future/