The lock master, Robert, at the Deep Creek Lock forewarned us, “It’s duckweed season.” What? Robert continued to describe this teeny, tiny plant that is presently blooming, “…by the billions!” He cautioned us to keep an eye on our thermostat as we motored and if the temperature rose to drop the hook mid-canal and clean out the raw water strainer (a.k.a. fish trap). We weren’t quite sure what to expect although Robert’s description of the plants carpeting the canal painted a pretty good picture in our minds.
Rode Trip puttered along blazing a trail through what seemed to be pond scum.
A bit of internet researching provided a good science lesson for us about duckweed. Duckweed (lemna minor) is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world; no bigger than 10 millimeters. The plants do not have stems or leaves but they do have oval-shaped fronds from which a single root extends. Duckweed grows in colonies atop undisturbed water; ponds, lakes, marshes, dismal canals, etc. It spreads rapidly. Duckweed provides a food source for birds, fish, and especially ducks. Duckweed also provides shelter for many aquatic animals and insects.
Colonies of duckweed spin fabulous patterns atop the water.
The duckweed is getting thicker…and Leon is getting LARGER! (c’mon, I know there are some ‘Airplane‘ fans out there)
When Robert said carpet, he sure wasn’t kidding.
Rode Trip plowed though and blazed a small trail behind. We did keep an eye on the thermostat but with the amount of provisions we had recently loaded onto the boat, Brian was confident that our raw water intake was now well below the duckweed line.
The duckweed did not slow us down on our way to stop number two on the Dismal Swamp Tour. We even picked up a hitch-hiker along the way.