More than a dozen species of fish are housed inside the building, including pumpkinseed, yellow perch, brook trout and lake sturgeon. These species of fish are all found inside Lake Champlain and play an important role in maintaining the aquatic ecosystem in the basin. The largest collection of fish is displayed at the Into the Lake exhibit, which features some of the largest species found in Lake Champlain. Check the schedule for feeding sessions that take place in this section daily.
The Land of Opportunity exhibit moves upstream to focus on the ecological system in the river’s upper course, as water flows down from the alpine zone into the lake. The exhibit explores the relationship between the land, plants and animals, and the interaction among them. Some of the questions posed include how land use in the basin affects ecological processes at the lake. This section is also home to an assortment of fish, turtles and amphibians. The exhibit includes detailed information about each creature, including information about its characteristics and place in the natural habitat, next to the animal’s display.
Apart from animals, Into the Lake also has a life-size recreation of an underwater shipwreck. The lake has around 300 shipwrecks that form part of Vermont’s Underwater Historic Preserve. The shipwreck on display is The General Butler that sank in 1876 after it crashed into Burlington’s breakwater during a winter storm. Although a few of the shipwrecks are currently accessible to certified divers, the replica gives the general public a chance to explore a part of the state’s rich archeological history which is usually not easily accessible to them.
This exhibit highlights threats to the long-term health of Lake Champlain. On display is a 2000-gallon tank that houses six animal and four plant invasive species, including Alewife, Zebra Mussel and Japanese Knotweed. These creatures are among the over 50 known invasive species in Lake Champlain. The display narrates the process of how these invasive species arrive at the lake and the damage they inflict on the ecological system.
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These species are dangerous because they do not have natural predators in the lake, and therefore they are likely to experience population explosions, often at the expense of other species. Some of these species have been introduced through natural processes but more often than not they arrive via human transport. Interactive games, informative graphics and other features are designed to educate the public about the millions of dollars spent on controlling invasive species and ways in which the public can help to prevent their spread in order to reduce this significant problem.
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