On the evening of October 13th, Lakehead University Masters student Nathan Wilson, along with Jason Freeburn and Dr. Rob Stewart of the LU’s Department of Geography and Environmental Science, presented an overview of 2015 research carried out to quantify environmental conditions in Cloud Lake. The lake is situated some 30 km. southwest of Thunder Bay and research centered on water quality, algae blooms and fish populations. The presentations are accessible at the bottom of this post. Thirty people attended the session, several joining the session through the Infosuperior event livestream.
The cloud Lake project was a collaborative study coordinated by Lakehead University in association with the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Thunder Bay District Stewardship Council, and the Northshore Steelhead Association. The data produced from this study provides Cloud Lake residents with a better picture of the changes occurring on the lake and helps responsible agencies to better understand the potential impacts to Northern Ontario lakes.
Data for the project was collected beginning on April 13, 2015 until November 2, 2015. This is a relatively short time frame for an in-depth study and required very focused objectives. Data collection consisted of shoreline health, submerged vegetation, fish community index netting, an inventory of smallmouth bass nests, and water quality samples for chemical analysis of phosphates, chlorophyll, and several other parameters as well as secchi depth readings, temperature and dissolved oxygen profiles. Cloud lake inflow tributaries and the outflow which drains into Lake Superior also provided discharge profiles temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chemical analysis.
The shoreline health assessment provides best management practices for shoreline development and key recommendations focused on the establishment of vegetation buffer zones to provide protection against erosion and dispersions of surface runoff. The submerged vegetation survey uncovered ‘weed bed’ locations and a baseline for future monitoring of key habitat features in the lake itself. The OMNRF’s Broad Scale Monitoring (BSM) and Near Shore Community Index Netting (NSCIN) results show a shifting aquatic community. Catch per unit effort in 1999 showed Walleye at the highest followed by Rock Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and lastly Northern Pike. In 2015, however, index netting shows a shift to Yellow Perch being twice as high as the next species Smallmouth Bass, Rock Bass, White Sucker, Walleye, and Northern Pike. It was noted that Smallmouth bass catch per unit effort was higher, and the fish were larger and heavier than comparable bass lakes in the region. The Smallmouth Bass nest survey observed 266 nests, one every 45m (22.2 nests/km). This further supports the conclusion of a shifting fish community from the previously stocked Walleye populations that most local fisherman were accustomed to. Water quality results indicate that Cloud Lake is in a mesotrophic state. Signs of eutrophication on Cloud Lake were observed through the frequent occurrence of cyanobacteria blooms. Although many of these blooms were not confirmed to be toxin producing, the species of cyanobacteria identified are associated with toxic blooms in other lakes. This is a major concern.
The 2015 Cloud Lake results drive home the notion that residents of the lake must be key actors in reducing the impact of nutrient loading into the lake.
View the presentations: