Central New York, Environment

The Hot Summer is Endangering Reefs at Green Lakes

The top layer of Deadman’s Point is now a conglomeration of dead reefs. (c) 2018 Sunny Tsai

Listen here to learn why the fragile reefs at Green Lakes are dying.

Audio Transcript: Feature News Story Green Lakes’ Reefs

By Sunny Tsai SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — As summer in Syracuse hits record high temperatures this year, the number of swimmers visiting Green Lakes State Park also increases. Summer activities are fun, until it begins to harm the natural environment.

Surrounding the lake in mass amounts are fresh water reefs that form from cyanobacteria. Not only do these fragile reefs contain a lot of plant life, but they also provide home and shelter to other aquatic organisms such as fish and a rare sponge species.

Green Lakes State Park is best known for its intense blue-green water that is a result from being a meromictic lake. This type of lake contains separated layers of water that almost never mix.

Susan Dolloff, Green Lakes Event Coordinator, explained that meromictic lakes are rare, with only 36 existing in the world. Dolloff said that the lake provides thousands of years of history and offers many great opportunities for scientists and colleges to study the environment.

With an influx of people crowding the water, some may venture into the restricted areas of the lake. Deadman’s Point, a large conglomeration of reefs, is a drastic example of the consequences that reefs suffer as a result of the visitors. The top portion of the point is completely dead, as people continue to walk over it, swim off of the reefs, and kick and brush against it. This kills off the plant life there and prevents the reefs from forming again.

Katie Mulverhill, Environmental Educator of New York State Parks, said that because people have broken down the living part of these reefs and continue to step on them, the reefs are unable to regrow.

There is a designated swimming area for visitors where reefs do not form. The beach exists at one end of the lake and drains out toward Oneida Lake.