The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Lake Guardian – Day Two

Today was our first day at sea!

After spending the morning at the Nature Center outside Old Fort Niagara to learn about the geological history of Lake Ontario, we walked down to the beach to hunt for fossils, glacial erratics, and man-made objects, such as concrete. (Glacial erratics are the rocks picked up by glaciers as they move and then deposited when the glaciers retreat.)

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There are fifteen teachers aboard the Lake Guardian, so we divided into two groups to gather samples at the various stations along the lake that we will be visiting. (This is the main purpose of this trip.) I am part of the first group, which we have dubbed the A Team. (Cue the music to the 80s television program.) Because we were the first group, arbitrarily determined as those who are sleeping on the port side of the ship, we had the honours of being the first to gather samples. I don’t think any of us knew what we were doing but, being teachers, we listened, followed directions, and quickly picked it up!

Three members of our team of eight were sent to work with one of the marine technicians to run the rosette, which is a large device used to gather a variety of water samples that are tested for several different agents found in the water. I went with our chief scientist and first filled up a large carboy with lake water, which will be filtered, concentrated, and then diluted again to allow them to look for trace quantities of different agents, especially toxins in the water. We also used nets to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton. The zooplankton numbers are reported to the EPA and Environment Canada as part of the Lake Ontario Lake Assessment. I took the first secchi disk measurement, which is used to determine the transparency of the water. We also tried to use the PONAR to collect soil samples from the bottom of the lake, which are examined for micro- and macro-organisms, but the station was too close to shore, so the ground was mostly rocks and gravel.

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After we finished, we came back in and went to the second sampling station, where Team B started collecting their samples. Because we were off duty, I took lots of pictures, instead.

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This process repeated itself three times, with a total of six sampling stations visited today. (Fortunately, there were not any difficulties with the PONAR at any of the other stations!) We worked through the evening and the crew aboard the ship will continue to work all night! It started raining right around dinner time, but we worked through the rain, too! The weather cleared up a bit as we got close to the Canadian side of the lake, which means I was able to get a hazy view of the Toronto skyline.

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Tomorrow, more of the same! Huzzah!

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