Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Lake Studies: Plants, Water, Uh, More Plants, Also Guns

Who knew there could be so much life thriving just underneath the water's surface? (Or, in some cases, right at the surface.) Brian Pilarcik, a prominent member of the Crawford County Conservation District, showed us a whole new world-- one filled with slimy plants and algae. Mounted on canoes, the campers rode (er, rowed) out into the heart of Sugar Lake to get a personal tour of the lake's diverse flora. From the gaudy pink swamp lily to a type of plant with flowers the size of a baby's pinky nail, Sugar Lake was astonishingly thick with all varieties of leaves, tendrils, etc.

A few more examples: the coontail, which unsurprisingly looks exactly like a cluster of green raccoons' tails and normally floats freely on the water; waterweed or elodea, a weed that provides superb habitats for aquatic wildlife but that can reduce dissolved oxygen levels significantly; fragrant water lilies, classic-looking white lilies and pads that look and smell very pleasant.

Once we came ashore, a final surprise awaited: huge water guns. While not very scientific or even remotely related to our previous observations, it was a lot of fun to ambush the counselors.

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