Saturday, October 18, 2008

Zeacliff Pond, the first glimpse, September 2008

This was my first glimpse of Zeacliff Pond in many years. The water level looks low as if it was a dry summer but it wasn't. The summer of 2008 has been pretty wet. At any rate the pond looks like a lot of the alpine ponds in the White Mountains including Eagle 'Lake' on Mt. Lafayette, Garfield Pond, Ethan Pond, Kinsman Pond, Speck Pond, the two lakes at Carter Notch, and others. They could all use another visit by the continental glacier to clean them out and spruce them up a bit. In 1965 I helped a friend and colleague, Larry Collins, with his Master's level thesis project which was to study the aquatic plants in three alpine ponds including Eagle Lake and Lakes of the Clouds (yes, I know, but they are still ponds even thought they're called "lakes"). We used scuba equipment and created 10 meter square grids across the bottom of the ponds and then randomly sampled the plants. We identified 7-8 different species of plants and Eagle Lake had a much larger inventory than Lakes of the Clouds largely because there was more mud on the bottom of Eagle Lake. That in turn was accounted for by the amount of detritus (particulate organic matter) that runs into Eagle Lake from the surrounding terrain and the dense plant growth around the perimeter. Both bodies of water freeze to the bottom every winter so that hasn't been a factor in plant distribution. Lakes of the Clouds may be 'younger' than Eagle Lake because of it's higher altitude or there may be less CO2 because the water is colder which would make it difficult for some of the plants to propogate. Over in Carter lake, the larger, deeper one, surface plants in the form of water lilies (nymphacea) with deep roots began appearing twenty years ago and they are becoming denser every year. Water lilies have been at Zeacliff Pond for several decades at least.

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