BAISS Boat Operations June 23, 2020

The following was written by Ted Eastlund, who volunteers on the Barnes Area Invasive Species Suction (BAISS) Pontoon  Boat.  On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the BAISS boat crew spent six hours on Upper Eau Claire Lake, collecting curly-leaf pondweed.


  1. Volunteer Ted Eastlund. Captain, Aft Crew, Water Intake Manager, Aquatic Plant Processor and Bagger, Deckhand.
  2. Alexis “Alex” Kabasa. Diver, Fore Crew, Aquatic Plant Collection Crew, Boat Navigator, Diver Safety Monitor, Diver Air Supply and Plant Intake manager.
  3. Cris Neff. Diver, Fore Crew, Aquatic Plant Collection Crew, Boat Navigator, Diver Safety Monitor, Diver Air Supply and Plant Intake manager.

Gus Gustafson:  Crew Scheduler, Boat Checker, Boat Engineer and Maintenance Manager, Embarkation and Disembarkation Manager, Boat Unloader, Record Keeper.

We collected curly-leaf pondweed Tuesday June 23 10am-4pm shift. Beautiful weather. Went well except for half an hour when aft motor kept stopping after 30 seconds. Corrected when gas line valve was opened “ON” correctly. Crew lives life with COVID precautions taken. On board on the lake we mostly maintained social distance without face masks.

One minor incident occurred twice requiring urgent action each time: This year the lake bottom at the collection site has a lot of black decayed finely dispersed vegetable matter. Twice the screen table was flooded with black water that suddenly occluded the screen openings and water quickly overflowed. I urgently pressed the upside-down white plastic “colander” bowl (the diffuser bowl) hard against the screen and scraped the screen back and forth and water flowed through and the screen table gradually emptied, leaving a coat of black muck.  We didn’t turn off the water intake pump motor. It kept flowing hard and fast, lending urgency to the need to apply mitigating steps. During the second occurrence both screen tables completely overflowed the black muddy water onto the pontoon deck and me.

The plants we collected included:

  1. Curly-leaf pondweed (CLP, crispus). Stiff, serrated edges. This was the most abundant specie. Plenty of turions.
  2. Northern water milfoil. Second most abundant, had 12-14 leaflet pairs per feathery leaf (not 12-18), not limp, stem not hollow.
  3. Had three leaves per whorl, therefore not invasive Hydrilla (4-8 leaves per whorl)
  4. Wild celery (few)
  5. Chara (rare)
  6. Bladderwort (rare)

Animals we found were:

  1. One crayfish
  2. Mystery Snail (one large, a few small)
  3. Few tiny clams
  4. One leech

Staffing and duration of collection are different from previous years.  Now 6 hours, it was 4 hours per day last year.

Last year, the crew included one paid diver and two volunteer deck hands:

  1. One fore volunteer to monitor diver safety and communications, air supply and intake.
  2. One aft volunteer to process and bag collected plants, monitor the aft water intake motor, drive pontoon.

In 2020 there are two divers each taking turns, one underwater each hour, the other serves as fore  crew to monitor air supply and diver safety and communications and net and collect floating plants.

The single aft volunteer now serves as pontoon boat captain, plant processor and bagger, and water intake motor monitor. Duties are:

  1. Identifies, processes and bags collected plants
  2. Monitors water intake pump motor. Keeps it running.
    1. Fuel line valve. Open by moving it far to the left (see arrow).
    2. Choke, to the left to choke and start motor, then move to right to keep carburetor open during operations.
    3. On/Off valve
    4. Keep gas tank with fuel
  3. Drives pontoon boat to collection sites and back to landing.
  4. Cleans after operation.


Apparently a Chinese Mystery Snail (they have been reported in Upper ECL). One large one found at the dock where we were removing CLP across from the island at site GP2. When opened to remove and save its beautiful operculum, many large eggs were found.
The peninsula shoreline lake bottom where the boat is docked overnight contains many Chinese Mystery Snails and fresh water clams.
Operculum from a Chinese Mystery Snail, an invasive specie.
LEFT:  Chinese Mystery Snail operculum external surface with calcifications.
RIGHT:  Internal surface of snail operculum.
Probably Chara, a native algae. Very few found near dock at beginning of collection.
A small native crayfish was collected along with the plants. Not a rusty crayfish but I didn’t examine in detail. Tail had that central dark line that is missing on Rusty Crayfish. One claw larger than a tiny one (not big). Couldn’t see any bilateral dark spots on carapace. Approx 3 inches long.
Some years back Rusty Crayfish were so abundant in the Eau Claire Lakes that some people were trying to collect them and sell to restaurants. Then they disappeared.
Diver Cris Neff.
Captain and Aquatic Plant Processor and Bagger Ted Eastlund.
Divers Alexis Kabasa (left) and Cris Neff (right).
Diver Alexis Kabasa holding plant intake device.
A beautiful curly-leaf pondweed turion.  They ranged from greenish with leaves to all brown, sharp and woody.
After the work shift was over we headed home. We saw a pair of loons with a baby chick that hatched in the past day or two. They incubated the egg on the artificial platform near the island very close to our collection site. Here is a loon parent with the newly hatched chick riding on the back of the parent.

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