BFS Researchers Locate Invasive
Worse Then Zebra, Researcher Says
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
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.
LETTER from PAUL LORD
To the Editor:
I was free diving (mask, fins and snorkel; no SCUBA) in Otsego Lake last Thursday evening, June 13, when I was run over by a motorboat moving at high speed.
No, I was not injured. I was frightened. I dug myself into the lake bottom to avoid injury.
A dive flag was clearly displayed, and I was within 70 feet of the Biological Field Station (BFS) boathouse dock. Clearly, the boater involved would have been devastated if blood had been left in the water. He seemed oblivious (as did his passenger) to the fact that he was violating at least three laws.
Each year, the BFS volunteer divers report boaters ignoring the red and white divers’-down flag and approaching the site of ongoing SCUBA diving. The volunteers have learned to keep one diver out of the water just to direct boaters away from the diving.
In New York State, motorboats must remain 100 feet away from the divers’-down flag, and motorboats must not create wake (must drive 5 mph or less) if within 100 feet of the shoreline or any human-created fixture in the lake.
from Paul Lord
To the Editor:
As a deaf guy, I don’t attend many musical performances. They are largely exercises in frustration for me. Before my hearing loss, I appreciated music, and I still appreciate memories of music, but the reality is that the notes don’t resonate when you are missing enough frequencies.
I attended last night’s performance to acknowledge the support provided by the Fly Creek Philharmonic for the Otsego Lake Association. I enjoyed every minute of it. This was the second or third time I attended a Fly Creek Philharmonic performance. Knowing the visuals would be important and hoping that my lip-reading skills would help to understand the lyrics, I stood in the rear last night.
LAKE FEST, RACE LAKE COLLOBORATE
Clark Sports Center photographer Emily Kishbaugh, top, documents Cooperstown’s Nancy Potter’s completion of the Race the Lake Marathon Saturday, which started and ended at Glimmerglass State Park. While Nancy wasn’t in the top 10, local runners dominated the half-marathon results, claiming the top five spots: Nick Arnecke, Edmeston, first; Wayne Allen, Oneonta, second; Brett Fritts, Springfield Center, third; Andrew Rock, Cooperstown, fourth, and Kara Arnold, Cooperstown, fifth. Peter Buffington, Winter Springs, Fla., won the full marathon in 3:08:38, but Cooperstownian Todd Baum was second, finishing in 3:16:03. The Race the Lake again collaborated with OCCA, which held its Otsego Lake Fest at the Glimmerglass Pavilion. At right, Paul Lord, the SUNY Oneonta biology professor and Biological Field Station mainstay alerts passersby to the latest invasive scourge: Herbilla. It isn’t here yet, said Lord, but let’s be vigilant to keep it that way. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – It means summer isn’t far behind.
Volunteer Divers Pat McCormack, Lee Ferrara, Bjorn Eilertsen, and Sarah Coney deployed no-wake zone buoys (NWZBs) and retrieved the over-winter spar buoys this morning, according to Paul Lord, who oversees the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field State diving team.
All NWZBs are deployed except for the Four Mile Point East and Five Mile Point Buoys, Lord reported. The Five-Mile Point NWZB is entangled with the BFS monitoring equipment. A carefully planned dive will be executed to disentangle the two systems once lights are in hand, he said. The Four-Mile Point East NWZB is also awaiting a light.