Scuba Diving to Protect the Environment – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Scuba Diving to Protect the Environment

While some students dust off their business attire, Robert J. Gugliuzzo ’09 slips into his scuba gear for a summer of fun and environmentally-friendly work. Gugliuzzo is working for the Skaneateles Lake Milfoil Eradication Project, where he will be scuba diving and removing the species Eurasian water milfoil. Eurasian milfoil is a particularly aggressive and invasive plant species that grows to 25 feet in length and now affects 2.3 miles of lakefront along Skaneateles Lake. The milfoil population, which was probably introduced to Skaneateles Lake by a boat from another body of water, has more than doubled in a span of just five years and overruns 7.2 acres of lake bottom. The continued and unchecked spread of this species will detrimentally affect the lakefront and permanently change the nature of the lake, eventually leaving the recreational areas along the shallow sides of the lake looking like swamps. This project was created to remove all milfoil possible in the summers of 2007 and 2008. A labor-intensive and expensive endeavor, every milfoil plant will be hand-pulled from the lake bottom, bagged, and removed from the lake so that the population can be controlled in future years. Gugliuzzo, a double major in geoscience and environmental studies, was immediately drawn to the unique nature of this project. “I chose to do this for the summer because it was the one job I found that would obviously be an exciting experience. I just happened to get my scuba certification this semester for the fun of it, and when I did my open water dive in Skaneateles Lake in April, in 39° F water, they told me about this project.” The project also piques his academic interests. “This project relates to my course work at HWS in many disciplines. In Environmental Ethics, with Philosophy Predoctoral Fellow Rodmon King, we discussed how our current environmental crisis is caused by the diminishing interconnectedness between humans and the ecological processes around them. Is the plant invading, or are we invading by removing it? Limnology, the study of lakes with Professor of Geoscience John Halfman and the Finger Lakes Institute has taught me how milfoil can have as much or more impact on the lake and its economic and environmental benefits as human impact.” For more information on milfoil or what you can do to help the Skaneateles Lake Milfoil Eradication project, please visit the project’s Web site at


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