The short answer: you. Protecting a lake involves more than just the people who live on its shores or visit it for recreation. Everyone and everything that is part of the watershed can impact a lake, and therefore it takes the efforts of many to ensure our lakes are healthy. Lakes fall under a patchwork… Continue reading Who protects lakes?
The name of a lake often reveals its history (Quarantine Lake), unique natural features (Grass Lake), animals that live nearby (Elk/Beaver Lake), its shape (Spectacle Lake), or what it is used for (Quarry Lake). Most lakes near Victoria take their names from people (Langford Lake), and a few seem to be named after animals but… Continue reading How are lakes named?
Access to lakes and along waterways such as creek beds or rivers is a complex legal question, with different laws applying in different parts of Canada. While lakes themselves are generally considered public resources, the land surrounding a lake can be privately owned, and the owner of that land can restrict public access. Likewise, roads… Continue reading Can anyone visit a lake?
There have been many legal challenges to the question of who owns a particular lake, but in general lakes are considered public resources. While a person or a company can buy land that surrounds a lake, they usually do not own the lake itself or the things inside it. In Canada, different levels of government… Continue reading Who owns a lake?
Weather patterns and trends are changing over time. The earth is warming, and this will cause many natural systems to break down or change irreversibly. Canada’s freshwater lakes are under threat from climate change. The lakes themselves are getting hotter – in fact, the world’s lakes are warming quicker than its oceans or atmosphere. Northern… Continue reading Does climate change affect lakes?
Algae are the foundation of a lake’s ecosystem, as they are at the bottom of the food web. Tiny creatures such as zooplankton, aquatic insects, and fish fry use algae for shelter and food. Mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians depend on those creatures as a source of food. Algae are beautiful under a microscope.… Continue reading Are algae bad for lakes?
A blue-green algae bloom forms a scum or slime on a lake’s surface, making the water look like pea soup. These blooms reduce oxygen in the water, block sunlight needed by aquatic plants, and are poisonous for fish, birds, amphibians, pets, and humans. The surprising thing about blue-green algae, however, is that they are not… Continue reading What is a blue-green algae bloom?
Wetlands are lands saturated by water for all or most of the year. All wetlands are essential to life and water quality, but not all wetlands are the same. A swamp is a wetland that is forested, dominated by woody plants such as trees and shrubs. Swamps are often found along the shores of rivers… Continue reading What are wetlands?
Plants and algae support fish and insects in a lake, and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus support plants and algae. Trophic status is a measure of the amount of nutrients in a lake. Oligotrophic lakes are poor in nutrients. They are deep and clear, with rocky shores and few rooted plants. Oligotrophic lakes do… Continue reading What is trophic status?
In and around lakes there are many different ecological zones, which are interdependent and support different natural processes and species. These zones are largely based on water depth. Riparian zone The riparian zone is where the land meets the water, along the shoreline where wetlands are often found. Littoral zone The littoral zone includes the… Continue reading What ecological zones does a lake have?
Invasive aquatic plants can spread between lakes via watercraft such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, boats with electric motors, and associated equipment. A leaf stuck on the bottom of a boat can fall off into a different lake and establish itself there. After a day at the lake, always: Clean your boat and gear. Drain all… Continue reading How do aquatic plants spread from one lake to another?
Pond lilies and water lilies are different aquatic plants of the Nymphaeaceae family. It’s easiest to tell the difference between the two by their flowers. Both plants provide shade for creatures and regulate subsurface temperature on hot summer days. Pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) The 4-6 sepals of a pond lily flower form a golden yellow… Continue reading Are pond lilies and water lilies different plants?
Aquatic plants are essential to healthy lakes. They provide shelter and habitat for young fish and insects, and they feed waterfowl and mammals. They hold sediment on the bottom and generate oxygen for all creatures to survive. The types of aquatic plants in a lake depends on the nutrients in the water, the water’s temperature… Continue reading What are aquatic plants?
Shorelines are key transition areas between water and land, and they provide some of the most valuable habitat of all terrestrial ecosystems. Shorelines are also popular places for humans. Natural shorelines are riparian zones left to grow and develop as nature dictates, allowing for complex interactions between water, soil, microorganisms, insects, plants, and animals. They… Continue reading How do shorelines affect lakes?
The amount of time it takes water to pass through a lake, or the pace at which water in the lake is replaced, is one of many factors that can affect the quality of water in a lake. A shorter retention time (or higher flushing rate) means that water moves from the lake’s inflows to… Continue reading How long does water stay in a lake?
Elevation, sunlight, depth, and circulation each contribute to the temperature of water in a lake. Within a day trip from Victoria, elevation is a key factor. Spectacle Lake, with an elevation of 379 m, will generally be cooler than Thetis Lake, with an elevation of 59 m. If you want a warm place to swim,… Continue reading What makes a lake warm?
Drinking from lakes and streams can be dangerous and is not advised. Feces from waterfowl and pollution from other sources can contaminate water with Giardia or E. coli. If you do not have your own water and need to drink, use a proper water filter or a fast-moving stream. Learn much more in the full… Continue reading Can you drink from a lake?
There are three natural factors that impact the clarity and colour of water in a lake: inorganic matter such as soil, organic matter such as decayed leaves, and algae such as phytoplankton. Unnatural factors such as pollution or runoff can bring excess nutrients, which can also impact the clarity and colour of water in a… Continue reading What makes a lake clear?
Many of Victoria’s lakes, such as Langford Lake, are “kettle lakes”, which were formed when glaciers melted over 10,000 years ago. Other natural processes that create lakes include erosion, dissolution, volcanoes, landslides, and even tectonic activity. There are few, if any, lakes near Victoria that have not been modified by humans via dams that control… Continue reading How are lakes formed?
Natural Resources Canada estimates that there are around 31,700 lakes with a surface area over 3 km2 in Canada. However, one of Victoria’s largest lakes, Elk/Beaver Lake, has a surface area of less than 2 km2, meaning it would not be included in that count. Estimates vary, but it is generally accepted that there are… Continue reading How many lakes are there in Canada?