Donations to Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab can take many forms: financial support for scholarships allows more students to experience all that Stone Lab has to offer, funding for lab facilities and vessels lets researchers continue their work to study Lake Erie, and other donations give staff the chance to tackle new things, from green energy projects to renovating historic buildings on Gibraltar Island.
But sometimes, a connection is made with a donor who can offer something unique. Fondriest Environmental, already a partner on a number of water quality projects, did just that, equipping Stone Lab staff with a second water quality buoy, similar to the one already bobbing in the water just north of Put-in-Bay.
“The new buoy allowed us to expand the range of real-time algal bloom monitoring. There are several buoys in the western basin, but this the only one east of the Lake Erie Islands,” said Dr. Justin Chaffin, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab’s research coordinator.
The buoy, located about 10 miles north of Huron, measures basic water quality information such as water temperature and pH, along with turbidity, which indicates how clear – or not – the water is. That turbidity could be caused by suspended sediments or by algal blooms.
The sensors also detect chlorophyll, the green pigment used to measure total algae in the water, and phycocyanin, a blue-green pigment specific to cyanobacteria, to help researchers keep track of algal blooms in Lake Erie.
An additional measurement, specific conductivity, indicates how much electricity the water conducts, with higher conductivity indicating that there are more chemicals (commonly referred to as “salts”) dissolved in the water. Because most aquatic plants and animals are adapted for a certain range of salinity, values outside of a particular range can negatively affect the ecosystem.
“We deeply appreciate what our donors contribute to the work we’re doing for Lake Erie,” said Dr. Christopher Winslow, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab director. “If someone is thinking about a non-traditional donation like this buoy, we encourage them to contact our office to talk about the details.”
More traditional donations can be made online at go.osu.edu/slgift. A gift of any size qualifies donors as a member of the Friends of Stone Lab (FOSL), a non-profit group dedicated to supporting Stone Lab and its work.