We Learned of the Wonderful World of Pond Life

Both my wife Tala and I joined with the local Nature Club to a trek to the nearest pond near our community where we learned of pond life. There the guide of our group told us that a small, still pond may look like a very quiet place, but if we look carefully into the water we will see lots of activity. Within we will see insect eggs, tadpoles developing into frogs, water beetles, snails and other forms of living creatures.

We directed to the surface of the pond where many different species of plants grow on the richness of the water – water lily pads and other plants and flowers (which are rooted at the bottom soil) are a familiar sight on the surface of many ponds. Cattails often grow around ponds, usually in shallow water to about six to eight feet tall. Besides providing food and oxygen, these varied plants offer protection and nesting places for other pond life. In cold wintry climates, the entire pond can freeze solid, but life carries on under the ice..

The mass of ‘green scum’ we have sighted floating on the surface is really a huge colony of tiny, thread-like plants called ‘spirogyra’, part of an ‘algae’ species. (Algae is way down on the food chain, almost everything in a pond eats algae, including bacteria and the higher forms of animal life.)

If we were able to look under a microscope we would be able to see a number of tiny living creatures – some skim the surface of the water quite quickly, while others scarcely move at all. The vast majority of pond creatures, however, are rather invisible and until viewed under the microscope will they would be able to be seen. Beneath the placid surface of the still waters of any pond is a microscopic habitat bustling with activity as tiny rather strange organisms that pursue their lives, their movements, eating and trying not to be eaten, excreting, and reproducing during their mating season. The female species must find safe places to hide their eggs and babies must make their way alone in a very hostile world, a trying experience. Tiny predators, less than five millimeters long, but fiercer than any raging tiger, stalk and attack their prey in the weedy jungle.

Note:  We were told that these single-celled creatures are called ‘Protozoa’. ‘Protozoa’ along with wiggly worms and other small animal life is called ‘crustaceans’ that serve as the main diet for fish and other water creatures.

Many forms of young and adult insects also make their habitat around ponds; mosquitoes and dragonflies flit across the still waters and water beetles, mayflies and other winged insects skim the surface.

Note: Some ponds contain ‘leeches’ that can attach to one’s body, be it human or animal, and they can suck blood from whomever they attach themselves.

The waters of ponds are teeming with amphibian life. Swimming in the waters are common pond fish, depending on the geography of the pond – yellow perch, bass, pickerel, bream and horned pout. Also freshwater clams, crayfish, snails, frogs, snakes, turtles make their habitat in many ponds.

 Many species of birds like to visit ponds to look for food for their diet or even nest along the banks; ducks, swans and geese are often seen swimming in the ponds, depending on the season of the year. Small mammals such as the beaver and otter make their habitat in the waters of a pond; beavers store their winter food, mate, and shelter in dams they build in the waters of the pond. 

We both learn something about ponds and after the interesting trek we were grateful to our guide for his informative talk on the nature of ponds and pond life.

 NOTE: “Ponds are bodies of standing water either natural or man-made that is usually smaller than a lake. They are bodies of water shallow enough for rooted water plants to grow throughout, the still water lack wave action on the shoreline, and where minute creatures make their habitat.” http://www.answers.com/topic/pond