For Immediate Release
New boat integral to lake monitoring program
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority unveils the Hexagenia
Connie Hunter, representing the Hunter Family, who donated $20,000, in memory of her husband Bryce McClelland Hunter. With Connie is family friend Paul Elia.
Newmarket, ON – September 29, 2016 – Named after the scientific term for mayfly – Hexagenia was unveiled today by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) and Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation (LSCF) at Lefroy Harbour Resorts marina near Innisfil. The new research vessel will use state-of-the-art equipment to continue to monitor the health of Lake Simcoe, replacing a previous boat in use since 2009.
“The presence of mayflies is seen as an indicator of clean, unpolluted water,” says Dr. Brian Ginn, LSRCA’s limnologist. Dr. Ginn leads LSRCA’s lake research program, which began in 2009. “The mayfly used to be abundant in Lake Simcoe, but its numbers have declined. By naming our boat Hexagenia, we are underscoring our commitment to work towards a cleaner, healthier Lake Simcoe.”
LSRCA is one of the only conservation authorities in Ontario to be able to monitor a complete lake ecosystem. Lake monitoring tracks things like phosphorus levels, dissolved oxygen levels, other nutrients like chlorides, heavy metals, suspended solids, fish, aquatic plants, macroinvertebrates, and water clarity.
These measurements provide a snapshot of water quality and, over the long-term, provide an understanding of emerging trends, issues and patterns, such as the rise and fall of the invasive zebra mussel, which has now been outcompeted by its cousin, the quagga mussel.
Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation raised the funds needed to purchase Hexagenia, an investment of more than $100,000. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the Foundation’s individual donors,” says Richard Simpson, vice-chair of the Board of Directors, LSRCA and Innisfil town councillor. “Of special note was a $20,000 donation provided by Connie Hunter in memory of her late husband Bryce, commemorating his deep appreciation of nature and desire to preserve Lake Simcoe.”
The 7.5 metre boat was built by Connor Industries in Parry Sound, Ontario and is designed to be more efficient and safer to operate in rough waters. Lefroy Harbour Resorts has donated the use of a boat slip to LSRCA since spring 2014.
It is the mission of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to work with our community to protect and restore the Lake Simcoe watershed by leading research, policy and action.
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Phone: 905-895-1281, ext. 527
Toll Free: 1-800-465-0437
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Hexagenia is the scientific name for the mayfly, an insect commonly found in clean, unpolluted water.
Fast facts about the
Builder: Connor Industries, Parry Sound Ontario
Weight: 4.99 gross tonnes
Length: 7.50 metres
What's in a name?
Hexagenia is the scientific name for the mayfly, an insect commonly found in clean, unpolluted water. Mayflies were once common near Lake Simcoe, but their numbers have declined. Naming the new research vessel the
Hexagenia reflects our goal of cleaning up Lake Simcoe and making it a welcoming environment for the mayfly once again.
Why do we need a boat?
Hexagenia is an integral tool that we use to help protect Lake Simcoe. Our researchers are out on the water regularly, taking samples and collecting information about the lake environment. We are able to track trends and we also use the findings to inform our restoration efforts. We also share our findings with the public and the greater scientific community at large.
Building the boat
Connor Industries in Parry Sound built the
Hexagenia for use by our research team. This new boat replaces the
Ouentironk which was retired last summer – as it needed more frequent and costly repairs. It could no longer support our science and research needs. The
Hexagenia is more efficient and safer to operate in rough waters.
Funding and support
The purchase of this new vessel, an investment of $100,000, was made possible through the support of our partner and champion, the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation and their individual donors. Lefroy Harbour Resorts has provided a complimentary boat slip since spring 2014.
LSRCA’s lake monitoring program
Everything we do in the watershed affects the lake. Sometimes, the results are obvious. But often, they only become clear when monitoring is done on a regular basis. The information gathered provides a glimpse into the health of the lake, and the consequences to our actions. Over time, we can discover trends – positive or negative – that are developing within the lake ecosystem.
There are many things we monitor in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. These include phosphorus levels, dissolved oxygen levels, nutrients, chloride, heavy metals, suspended solids, aquatic plants, and macroinvertebrates. We also monitor fish in the streams and rivers, while the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry monitors fish in Lake Simcoe.
Testing the waters
Bi-weekly sampling is done using an EXO2 Sonde multi-probe, a handheld instrument that measures water quality. It analyses for dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, conductivity, chlorophyll and blue green algae.
Benthic sampling (collecting bugs) is performed once a year in the fall usually because that’s when the majority of species are in their most mature form. Benthic refers to organisms that live in or on the bottom sediments of rivers, streams, and lakes. These organisms can tell us a lot about the health of the lake. For instance, some tolerate pollution better than others. When we collect samples, we can tell how the lake is doing just by the presence or absence of certain species. We are able to also analyse our samples in house, as we have staff well-versed in taxonomy (the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms).
Sediment sampling is carried out once a year, and we take the samples from the same sites each year. (See attached map of Lake Simcoe Monitoring Stations). “Grab samples”, which are a snapshot of data at a particular point in time, are sent out to a laboratory for chemical analysis for elements like phosphorus and metals.
We also collect sediment core samples. These help us reconstruct the environmental history of the past 200 to 1,000 years of the lake by analysing fossilized remains of algae and invertebrates. By figuring out what species are present (or absent), combined with what we know about the ecology of these species, we have an idea of phosphorus concentration, oxygen levels, water levels and fish populations.
An old tool of the trade
Secchi disk – Used to measure water clarity, the Secchi disk is surprisingly simple. Invented in 1865, the plain black and white, circular disk measures 30 centimetres in diameter. It is mounted on a pole or line and lowered into the water. Water clarity is measured at the point the disk is no longer visible to the naked eye.
The state of the lake
Lake Simcoe is in better shape than it was in the 1990s. We know this because of indicators such as the fact that the trout population has increased and is reproducing naturally, that Cisco (lake herring) is coming back, and because phosphorus levels are down.
One of the biggest changes to Lake Simcoe took place with the arrival of the invasive zebra mussel. Although it’s largely been replaced by the invasive quagga mussel, these mussel cousins are often referred to as “ecosystem engineers” because their introduction has completely changed Lake Simcoe in a number of ways. Their incredible ability to filter lake water has enhancing water clarity, allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper and in turn increasing plant growth.
In other words, complaints about how bad weeds are, can be, in large part, attributed to the introduction of the invasive mussel.
Sharing our science
We share the science and research data we collect with the greater scientific community a number of ways. We publish our information in scientific journals like Inland Waters. We attend and present at conferences such as the International Association for Great Lakes Research. Our researchers also engage with members of the scientific community through a number of working groups and forums. In this way, our science and research is contributing to a greater understanding not only for ourselves, but other researchers around the world.
We reach out to the general public about our science through our Lake Simcoe Science Newsletter, published roughly three times per year. The newsletter series is also published in Lake Simcoe Living, a lifestyle magazine of interest to local residents.