Nativity of Our Lord fifth graders become Exotic Aquatic Explorers for a day
By Eileen Persike
The sun was shining on the shores of Boom Lake Friday where fifth graders from Nativity of Our Lord School were lucky enough to be attending class. The outdoor classroom was hosted by the Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) team. Students became Exotic Aquatic Explorers for the day, focusing on AIS, water quality, aquatic plant identification, shoreline habitat, restoring an AIS-affected shoreline and protecting the environment though communication skills.
At one station, students used Aquascopes to look in the water, searching for invasive plants and animals. They found a rusty crayfish. AIS project assistant, Tom Boisvert, demonstrated how to catch, hold and identify them.
“These rusty crayfish are two or three times bigger than the natives. You can see this one is missing a claw,” Boisvert said. “It probably happened when it was fighting with another crayfish, that’s how destructive they can be.”
The rusty crayfish may have been used as fish bait, or perhaps introduced to the lake as a way to combat Eurasion water milfoil, Boisvert said. But they destroy all weeds and plant life, not just the invasive milfoil.
Another group of students boarded a pontoon boat to learn how to check the oxygen levels in the water, and see where AIS may be found on shore and in the water.
Students also had the opportunity to write and act in a public service announcement to increase awareness of AIS.
Oneida County AIS coordinator Stephanie Boismenue noted that the events provide young people with an appreciation for the environment and encourages them to become environmental stewards.