St. Lawrence River, ON

Watermark by Gail Friesen
Collected by Phoenix Tarampi
My Watermark is the St. Lawrence River, Ontario.

We like to sail down to the 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River. We like to sail on our sailboat, and anchor at the various islands, in the 1000 islands. When we anchor we like to enjoy the water. We swim, and snorkel. There are lots of wildlife in the water,such as fish, as well as wildlife on the island. It is a very delightful area, which a lot of people are surprised doesn’t exist along the shores of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River.

There is a story that always comes to mind when we are in the water. We noticed that when we placed pieces of bread in the water, there were fairly large sunfish that came around.

The sunfish have learned that if they hang around sailboats, they can pick up morsels of food waste. Through the belch you discharge dishwater which has bits of food in it. They have learned these boats are a source of food. So when we put the bread into the water, they are used to getting fed.

So some days, I would take pieces of stale bread, put on my mask and go snorkelling. By the time I finished my bread there would be around 20-25 sunfish swimming around me. After a while, you start to think of them as pirañas because they become quite aggressive. They will actually come up and suck on your skin, arms and fingers because they are so accustomed to being hand-fed by people. They don’t have anything to fear.

A few times, there were fairly large sunfish that would come up and suck on my fingers. I remember my sister that was snorkelling with me at the time was really freaked out and started to scream that we had pirañas sucking on our skin.

That was just always one of the funny stories that I remember. It was very delightful to interact with fish because you only ever look at fish, you don’t interact with them the same way that we experience there. So it’s one of my favourite stories.
Watermarks are true stories about you and your connection to a body of water. By archiving your story, you add to a living record of our shared water heritage, protecting these waters for generations to come. So tell us: What is your watermark?

I think water imprinted upon me and the lakes imprinted upon me and today I’m a professor of biology and I study lakes and I study Great Lakes and really value the water and all that is in it.

Cranberry Lake, USA - Scott McNaught
St. Lawrence River Watershed