Coffee Pond is located in the town of Casco, and is approximately 43 hectares (106 acres) in surface area. The lake has an average depth of 9.8 m (32’), a maximum depth of 21.3 m (70’), and it supports both warm and coldwater fisheries. Transparency measurements for the pond have been consistently deep with an 8.5 m (28’) historical average. Although its name implies darkly colored waters, the average color measurement for it is 9 SPU (Standard Platinum Cobalt Units), which is relatively low compared to other Maine lakes. The most recent invasive aquatic species survey -- a comprehensive level 3 that took place in 2014 -- found no invasive aquatic plants in the waterbody. The most recent Loon Survey (2020) recorded two adults and two chicks.
The Common Loon (Gavia immer) is a medium-large aquatic bird, between 66-91 cm (26.0-35.8 in) and weighing between 2.5-6.1 kg (5.5-13.4 lbs) according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithography. They are known for their distinctive calls and, in the summer, the adults have striking red eyes and black bodies with white dappling and pinstripes. They are a diving species with an elongated, pointed bill (beak) that is diamond-like in cross section. Their elongated bodies are hydrodynamic and their webbed feet stick out beyond their tail allowing them to propel themselves efficiently through the water. These elongated bodies and their powerful wings also make them exceptional fliers; they have been recorded at traveling at speeds of over 120 km/h (75 mph).
Loons on Coffee Pond, photo by Kim Bennett aka MaineKayakGirl of the Kayaking In Maine blog
This flight speed serves them well as they have been known to migrate over 2,500 km (1,553 miles), northward in spring to locations that include Maine lakes, where they nest and typically raise 1-2 chicks. Toward the end of summer and early fall, they begin their southerly journey to winter habitat. Loon parents raise their chicks together for approximately 12 weeks, before leaving their offspring and flying separately to different warmer coastal areas. They usually reunite as a pair the following spring. Juveniles also migrate southward that first year, but will remain along the coast for several years until they are ready to return to a lake environment for breeding.
Maine Audubon has run an Annual Loon Count community science program since 1984. An article about the program in 2020 can be found HERE. The Lakes of Maine website has a data visualization of the loon count data HERE.
Please note: Gavia immer is not the only loon species we have in Maine. The Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) is a coastal species, but can be seen on Maine lakes during migration. It breeds in Northern Canada, Iceland, Greenland, and Russia.
Learn more about Coffee Pond HERE, or check out conservation areas near it HERE. You can also find an excellent guide for non-motorized watercraft recreation HERE or if you prefer a paper version, check out her guidebook: Paddling Southern Maine.
The Maine Loon Project has worked for more than three decades to assess the status and safeguard the future of Maine’s loon population. As part of this project, Maine Audubon works with over one thousand residents and partners statewide each year to conduct the Maine Annual Loon Count--a census of the Maine breeding loon population that has taken place on lakes and ponds throughout the state on the third Saturday of July every year for the last 37 years. And 2020 was no exception. Last year, 48 volunteer regional coordinators and 1,347 participants overcame challenges posed by the pandemic to safely survey 308 lakes and ponds across the state--sixteen more lakes than the previous year! The observations recorded by community scientist volunteers provide an annual “snapshot” of Maine’s loon population, which allows Maine Audubon to calculate an annual population estimate and track trends over time.
Click on Show More, and click on the icons, below, to find out more about the loon surveys!
To many aquatic ecologists (and indeed policy-makers) this is one of the most iconic lake photos. It is of Lake 226 in the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) of northwestern Ontario, Canada. It shows a whole-lake experiment demonstrating the influence of phosphorus on water quality. To set the stage, it was the early 1970s; there was a debate raging about the causes of noxious algal blooms and their many effects on lake ecosystems. Detergents and fertilizers were major sources of phosphorus. However, rather than phosphates, the soap industry at the time lay the blame for algal blooms on carbon and nitrogen. While laboratory experiments could readily demonstrate the influence of phosphorus, a larger-scale demonstration was needed to drive home the point to regulatory agencies. So ELA scientists placed a rubber curtain across Lake 226. To one side, they added carbon and nitrogen. To the other, they added phosphates as well as carbon and nitrogen. Within weeks, the phosphate side “exploded into teeming green soup.”
The lead scientist in this study - and much other research on boreal ecosystems - was Minnesotan native David Schindler. Schindler died last month. Read this tribute to find out much more about someone who is considered to be “among the most important and effective ecologists and environmental scientists in history...”
David Schindler (1940-2021)
We use lakes for recreation and drinking water, but they are also home to many other organisms. One of those is the cyanobacterium Gloeotrichia echinulata (aka “gloeo”) that blooms in many of our lakes in the summer. Holly will discuss some of the mysteries of these blooms and their relationship to water quality, land-use history, and climate.
Click for information on this free Zoom event at 10:30am on Thursday, June 24th
Tracy Hart, Director of the Maine Loon Project, will talk about the Maine Annual Loon Count, population trends, and tools on the Lakes of Maine site for learning about counts and survey efforts on individual lakes. She will also share fun facts about Common Loon natural history, threats, and conservation efforts in Maine.
Click for information on this free Zoom event at 4pm on Friday, June 25th
Maine has thousands of lakes, and all are unique. However, many lakes share traits that help lake managers, watershed organizations, and researchers, compare and evaluate them. This is especially important for lake assessments, which often compare a lake’s condition to the condition of reference lakes from minimally-disturbed watersheds. By determining which natural attributes of lakes and their watersheds have the strongest influence on lake condition, we can place lakes into categories that define what the conditions of certain types of lakes should be. These categories help managers place lake data in the proper context for better evaluation and planning. This talk will be about how lake types were developed for Maine lakes, and how these types may be applied to lake assessment and protection. Work like this is possible in large part because of significant contributions of long-term data from citizen scientists through the Lake Stewards of Maine. Applications of these data, beyond basic water quality monitoring, will also be discussed.
Click for information on this free Zoom event at 3:55pm on Friday, August 13th
This presentation is a look into the geologic cycle of Maine’s lake. Dr. Norton will explore the the chronology and formation of Maine’s lakes, the evolution of the soil chemistry and water chemistry during the last 16,000 years, a bit about the major responses of lake water chemistry to this evolution, the detailed history of anthropogenic air pollution as seen through the lens of sediment chemistry, and conclude with the life-after-death history of a Maine lake.
Click for information on this free Zoom event at 2pm on Friday, August 27th
Click here to view current water quality conditions on a representative sample of Maine lakes during summer, or view which lakes have experienced ice-cover in the fall and ice-out in the spring.
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