About Branch Lake:
The Secchi disk is one of the most widely utilized - and certainly one of the least expensive - pieces of equipment in the tool box of lake scientists. For many years (approaching half a century for some lakes), the Secchi has been used to measure water clarity in several hundred Maine lakes - data collected by hundreds of volunteers (citizen lake scientists), as well as professionals.
If you have never used a Secchi disk, you can now try your hand at measuring water clarity virtually - using the Lake Stewards of Maine’s Secchi Simulator. You don’t have to be a lake monitor to use this Simulator. Simply click on the “Try it out” button to get started. Good luck! And if you would like to join LSM’s volunteers and measure water clarity in your lake, please contact Lake Stewards of Maine.
Water Transparency & an Italian Priest
There are over 140,000 Secchi readings from Maine lakes on this website—most of them collected by volunteers. The circular disk, familiar to all lake citizen scientists, was invented in 1865 by an Italian Jesuit priest, Pietro Angelo Secchi. He had been invited to join a research cruise on a ship (the “Immacolata Concezione”) of the Pontifical Navy to find an objective method to measure water clarity. Secchi’s original white disk was modified in 1899 by an American civil engineer, George Whipple, to the black and white version we now use.
Angelo Secchi was an extremely accomplished scientist. While his main field of scientific interest was astronomical spectroscopy, he also studied meteorology and oceanography. For a while, he taught at Georgetown University before returning to Rome in 1850. Over his career, he published over 700 scientific works.
For more information on Angelo Secchi, here is one source.
To access the various data sets containing Secchi data, click here.
Most water quality data on this website have been collected by Lake Stewards of Maine’s volunteer citizen lake scientists, many of whom have been monitoring lakes for multiple decades. Here is Bob’s story.
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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