James, Patrick and David (in CAVA shirts) joined our water quality monitoring crew to become citizen scientists on April 22, to study river conditions, spot osprey nests and enjoy a glorious day on the water.
They joined Boat Captain Doug and WQ Crew member Jeni (at left), deck hand Tom (red hat) and Field Investigator Jack (tan hat) to track excellent oxygen and salinity levels throughout the upper Severn River.
Our water quality team quickly put the Cava team to work. James handled the Team Leader role to record all the data on our WQ datasheet.
Jeni controlled the depth of the YSI probe to start building a picture of the water column from the bottom to the surface. David was our “reader” – the person who tracks the ever changing values on the YSI handled computer and reads them aloud for all to consider.
Patrick usually handled the clarity reading by using the Secchi Disk measure the distance you can see a pattern underwater (from the surface).
The great news – there was plenty of oxygen and salinity everywhere. No dead zone activity!
These conditions are typical when the water temps are barely at 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, once the river warms up and pushes 60 degrees Fahrenheit, conditions will deteriorate rapidly.
The combination of warming water, plenty of sunlight for photosynthesis and abundant sources of junk food for algae (nitrogen and phosphorus from stormwater runoff) fuel algae blooms that first rob sunlight from our underwater grasses and then lead to dead zones (water with low oxygen content).