News Release

Ron Kinnunen,, (906) 226-3687

ANN ARBOR — Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches are beautiful swimming destinations. However, many beachgoers are not aware of the dangerous currents that occur along those beaches. Nationally, an estimated 80 percent of lifeguard rescues each year are current-related, and dangerous current rescues and deaths are a regular occurrence in Michigan’s Great Lakes.

Michigan Sea Grant will receive $75,000 to lead a new public outreach project that is focused on reducing the risk of drowning from dangerous currents. A main goal of the two-year project is to increase understanding about dangerous currents among state and local park staff, beachgoers, community leaders and educators.

“A significant amount of scientific research and public outreach has been conducted regarding rip current hazards on the ocean coasts. However, this project will address the need for training and public outreach tailored for public beaches in Michigan,” said Ronda Wuycheck, Chief of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Coastal Zone Management Program.

The project has three components:

  1. Organizing and conducting educational workshops for Michigan’s parks staff, K-12 educators, first responders and others;
  2. Creating specific and targeted public outreach messages about dangerous currents; and
  3. Developing web-based educational resources using NOAA National Weather Service data.

“Michigan Sea Grant’s Elizabeth LaPorte and Ron Kinnunen have a strong history of working on this issue,” said MSG Director Jim Diana. “With their expertise and dedication, along with the great partners on the project, we will be able to expand the scope and reach of what we’re trying to do.”

Those partners include MDEQ, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Marquette National Weather Service Office. Collaborators include the Mackinaw County Water Safety Review Team, the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project and the NOAA Coastal Storms Program. First responders, community leaders and others are also invited to participate.

Financial assistance for this project is provided by the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program, MDEQ, through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program partners with local governments, non-profit organizations and universities to promote wise management and prudent use of the cultural and natural resources within our coastal boundary.

To learn more, see: Dangerous Currents Outreach Project