Sunday, August 16, 2009

Living it Up on South Bass Island

Expecting party pictures? Well, I don't have any, but yesterday I was immersed in the fairly amazing party culture of South Bass Island, aka Put-in-Bay, which is the small party village on South Bass. Why did I go here, you may ask? Yesterday the Ohio Heritage Naturalists ventured to the island to meet up with Lisa Brohl and Debbie W. of the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy.

Our goal? Explore some of the more interesting shoreline areas of the island, which is basically a giant rock of dolomite. Where the dolomite meets the water, many interesting and rare plants grow- these systems are shoreline alvars, a very rare great lakes plant community.

Here we are exploring the Shoreline alvar.

Harebell, Campunula rotundifolia, abounds on these cliffs and slump blocks. This plant is extremely rare in Ohio, and is listed as a threatened species. This small and delicate flower is perhaps the poster child, at least plant wise, for this community. As Lisa explained to us, the real poster child of the community is the federally threatened Lake Erie Watersnake- Protecting its habitat also ensures the protection of the alvar community.

I always love taking pictures of people in front of interesting signs, and all the more interesting when the signs have a big "do not" painted across them.

The shoreline alvars have prairie affinities, including the native species\mountain mint (perhaps Virginia?- I didn't look at it well enough) and Big Bluestem.

Here's Rick Gardner, my botanical partner in crime, looking sneaky.

We also went out to east point, and waded across to Buckeye Island.

After east point, we drove through down town put-in-bay. What a nightmare. I was driving, and dodging all the pedestrians, golf carts, go carts, mopeds, bicyclists, tourist jeeps, buses and vans was crazy. No pics, as I was driving.

Our last stop was on the west shore of the island, to look at more shoreline alvar habitat. From this vantage point, we could see bands of microcystis algae- an indicator of water quality problems.

Here, Len is examining a sapling blue ash, Fraxinus quadrangulata.

Isn't that a beautiful hunk of dolomite? The shoreline alvars of the Lake Erie Islands are extremely rare Ohio plant communities. We were lucky to explore these area, all thanks to Debbie and Lisa and the Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy.



  1. Looks like another awesome... eh, educational time! Sorry to have missed it- but love your photos.


  2. Cheryl- It was both, thanks very much. Great people watching too.

  3. Great post and images Tom, looks like everyone had a great time !!

  4. Anon- Thanks very much. As my high school Latin teacher, Tom McCaffery, used to say, "a great time was had by all".

  5. ...this is part of my state, and I can't believe I haven't been here. Absolutely gorgeous! I'm putting it on my "go there" list.

  6. appreciate the intro to alvars. nothing like 'em in my home state. spent a few hrs reading about them the last time you mentioned them here. variations on the theme in southern appalachians. going there tomorrow.

  7. How I wish I could have come along with you to explore that fascinating shoreline. And I wish I could have brought you along to explore an alvar shoreline near me here in the Adirondacks, what are called "ice meadows" along the Hudson River where it tumbles riotously out of the mountains, pushing ice packs in winter that scour the shoreline. Here Harebells run wild, along with all kinds of other unusual wildflowers. I show photos on my Aug. 13 post of my blog

  8. hmm, im very like to enjoy in sea, in beach actually, do you know in my country there was held some party called sail bunaken, there was more of divers join to this party to celebrate the indonesia birthday on 17 august ,

  9. Great shots Tom, you must have had a great time there !!

  10. Great photos and very interesting post.
    I love exploring the waters edge along my local river when the tide is low enough.

  11. Kelly- The Lake Erie Islands are amazing, definitely worth the drive from SW Ohio.

    Jackie- I did catch you post. Very interesting, you've got a great botanical eye and I always like seeing what you are seeing.

    Gandhi- Fascinating. I've been to Malaysia.

    Thanks Bernie-

    Rita- Water is a fantastic thing.


  12. Cool, I didn't know C. rotundifolia could be found in OH. They grow like weeds out here in MT; sounds like they do in NY too, according to Woodswalker's comment.

    Bryan S.

  13. You always fill me with nostalgia when you post places like this that I went as a child with my parents and relatives. I remember boating to the island and the monument at Put-in-Bay, but never explored the nature there. Now I would love to go back with a camera.