June 2015

Upwellings June 2015 612x373

Dexter High School Places Second in 2015 National Ocean Sciences Bowl

Dexter High school team, coach and regional coordinator

Dexter High School placed second at the 18th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Accompanied by Michigan Sea Grant employee and Regional Bowl Coordinator Ellen Spooner, the team from Dexter, Michigan surpassed 21 of their 22 competitors in the national competition April 24-26, setting a new school record. They beat rivals from Greenhills High School in the regional Great Lakes Bowl in February to earn their spot in the national competition.

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl tests science knowledge on marine and coastal (including Great Lakes) topics for high school teams from around the country. Teams advancing from regional levels move on to compete for the national title. The buzzer format competitions encourage environmental and earth sciences education and help prepare students for education and careers in conservation.

Dexter high school team members field trip to Horn IslandTeam member Ben Nicholas stated, “The decision to join Ocean Bowl solidified my career interest in marine science and allowed me to connect with students who love the ocean as much as I do. I was also able to rapidly expand my knowledge of ocean science, which will greatly help me in college at Oregon State University.” Ben is one of two seniors from his team who plans to study science after high school. Other team members include Ryan McGinnis, Noah Morrill, Will Wendorf and Alec Smerage.

Speaking of the experiences Dexter High School competitors had while in Mississippi, Ellen Spooner said, “The team had the opportunity to enjoy a few field trips while in Mississippi for the competition. They sailed aboard the Biloxi Schooner — a historical Mississippi oyster and seafood boat. They learned about the importance of barrier islands to marine biodiversity. It was a great opportunity for them to experience marine history and coastal ecology.”

SIMG_4019pooner says the event is an excellent opportunity for high school students, “I saw volunteers, who were once students, return to the Bowl because they enjoyed the experience and wanted to give back. I highly recommend that any student or teacher who has the opportunity to participate in this competition to do so, as it gives students incredible skills and experiences that can directly translate into successful careers and incredible memories of fun and friendship.”

Dexter High School coach Cheryl Wells will retire this year after 18 successful years as coach, making the 2015 national competition and second-place finish her last. Her colleagues and students say she has left an astounding legacy and will be greatly missed in the regional and national bowls.

The 2015 Great Lakes Ocean Sciences Bowl was facilitated with assistance from Whitney Conard, Kevin Keeler and Alison Gould.

Great Lakes Bowl

  • The Great Lakes Bowl is a regional competition for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) and is hosted by Michigan Sea Grant.
  • The Great Lakes Bowl was held on February 7, 2015.
  • 16 high school teams competed in question/answer buzzer matches as well as essay questions.
  • Topics include Great Lakes and marine biology, chemistry, geology and physics.
  • The winning team advanced to the national competition.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB)

  • The NOSB is an annual academic competition focusing on ocean science education.
  • The 18th annual NOSB was held April 24-26 at Ocean Springs High School in Mississippi and was hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
  • The top three winners in 2015 were from inland states.

If your high school team is interested in competing in future Great Lakes Ocean Sciences Bowls, please visit our website (www.michiganseagrant.org/education/nosb) or follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/miseagrant) for information and announcements.


Great Lakes Charter Industry: Michigan Sea Grant Programs Support Sustainable Fishing


Michigan Sea Grant has a long history of working with the Great Lakes recreational fishing charter fleet. Extension educators like Dan O’Keefe from Grand Haven gather charter industry information by surveying captains and customers, hosting regional fisheries workshops and writing articles for popular and technical audiences. These efforts help us better understand the ups and downs of the fishing industry and the Great Lakes ecosystems it depends on. Ultimately, better understanding leads to better decision making and a more sustainable future.

Great Lakes Charter Fishing Study

The current issue of Fisheries features an article on the status of the Great Lakes charter fishing industry. Researchers and extension educators with Ohio and Michigan Sea Grant surveyed charter operators in all Great Lakes states to assess changes in business practices, revenues and expenses. Results show a 27 percent drop in charter trips across the Great Lakes from 2002 to 2011.

Causes for Decline on Lake Huron

A companion paper in the same journal investigates reasons for the decline of charter fishing on Lake Huron. Authors from Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Chonnam National University documented a 51 percent decline in charter trips in Lake Huron from 2002 to 2011. They found that the best explanation for the decline in charter trips is decreasing Chinook salmon catch rates and increasing gas prices.

Volunteering for Science

The decline of Chinook salmon on Lake Huron was due, at least in part, to an increase in their natural reproduction. This may seem surprising, but Chinook salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes in the late 1960s to control nuisance alewife. As salmon spread to new rivers and habitat quality improved, the number of young salmon greatly increased. In Lake Huron, the combination of wild and stocked salmon led to overpopulation of salmon, crash of alewife populations and ultimately starvation of salmon.

charter captains

Charter captains on Lake Michigan are concerned that a similar scenario could spell disaster for their lake. Michigan Sea Grant and partner organizations — including MDNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Detroit Steelheaders — now enable charter captains and other anglers to share their observations with biologists. Volunteers with the Salmon Ambassadors program measure each Chinook salmon they catch and check for fin clips. A clipped fin indicates that the fish was stocked.

In 2014, volunteers with the program recorded data on 3,460 salmon. Ports around Lake Michigan reported 57 to 75 percent of caught Chinook salmon were wild, while volunteers in northern Lake Huron reported 82 percent wild. Understanding when and where stocked fish contribute to the catch will help managers make informed decisions regarding the future of salmon stocking.

Concern for the Future

Charter captains list aquatic nuisance species and fuel costs as their main concerns for the future of the industry, with the economy, fisheries management decisions and dwindling forage fish populations close behind. The charter industry has been actively working with fisheries managers and policy makers to ensure sustainable fisheries for the future.

In 2012, charter captains and other anglers were given the opportunity to engage in a structured decision-making process led by the Lake Michigan Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and researchers from Michigan State University’s Quantitative Fisheries Center. Anglers shared their opinions on several options for the future of salmon stocking in Lake Michigan. Michigan Sea Grant provided online educational materials and conducted a survey to gauge angler response. The results indicated overwhelming support for reduced stocking. Fisheries managers cut Chinook salmon stocking by 50 percent, confident in their support from educated charter captains and others who realized the situation had become unsustainable.

Now, three years after cuts in salmon stocking, the charter industry is faced with another question. Was the 50 percent stocking reduction enough? Michigan Sea Grant continues to work with partner agencies to bring captains the information needed to make that decision.

Walleye – the Silver Lining

While Lake Michigan salmon fishery faces tough questions and an uncertain future, Lake Huron is quietly making a resurgence. Native walleye recruitment skyrocketed when the alewife population collapsed. Saginaw Bay now produces some of the best walleye fishing anywhere, but charter fishing for walleye has yet to experience the boom of popularity one might expect. Michigan Sea Grant has engaged with local communities, the tourism industry and media to spread the word and help bolster the Lake Huron charter fishing industry.

Links to Additional Resources

Salmon Ambassadors:

MSUE News articles:

Fisheries magazine articles (electronic journal access required):

  • The Great Lakes charter fishing industry: 2002-2011
  • Factors influencing charter fishing effort trends in Lake Huron



Staff Updates

Michigan Sea Grant Welcomes New Staff Members

Clarence Fullard-600pxClarence Fullard recently joined the Michigan Sea Grant team as Program Coordinator. He will be working with staff at the University of Michigan Sea Grant Office to manage grant-funded projects, track program performance and work with partners to expand MSG’s efforts to promote, protect and enhance Great Lakes resources.

“I’m very excited to be back in Michigan and working for Sea Grant,” said Fullard. “I love the region and the good things we do to protect it, and I’ll surely be happy doing what I love in a state I’m quickly learning to call home.”

Clarence comes to Michigan Sea Grant most recently from Washington, D.C., where he worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service on invasive species management issues as a Michigan Sea Grant-sponsored, John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. He represented NOAA with inter-agency working groups dealing with aquatic invasive species issues across the U.S. and coordinated the NOAA Aquatic Invasive Species Team.

Clarence earned a B.S. in natural resources at Ohio State University and a master’s degree in conservation biology at Central Michigan University. His research and management experience has focused on freshwater ecology in the Great Lakes basin, but also includes aquatic ecology work in the Mississippi River watershed, the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Maine. Clarence is an avid fly fisherman, canoeist and gardener.

“Of all the Great Lakes, I most enjoy spending time on Lake Michigan. From Sleeping Bear Dunes to the Beaver Island Archipelago, the beauty of the Lake Michigan coast is unsurpassed.”

Fullard is based at the Michigan Sea Grant office at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Contact: (734) 763-1530 or cfullard@umich.edu.


Cindy HudsonCindy Hudson, Communications Manager for Michigan Sea Grant Extension

Cindy Hudson is the new Communications Manager for Michigan Sea Grant Extension’s Michigan State University office. In her new position, she works collaboratively with colleagues at MSU and U of M to inform, educate and engage the public, stakeholders and others to help fulfill Michigan Sea Grant’s mission to enhance sustainable use of Great Lakes resources. Her responsibilities include program planning and reporting, identifying stakeholders’ issues, supporting the work of Sea Grant educators around the state and representing the Sea Grant Extension Program.

“I am thrilled to become part of the Michigan Sea Grant team,” said Hudson. “I love living in Michigan and to be able to help conserve our state’s coastal and Great Lakes resources is an exciting opportunity.”

Hudson brings to MSU a background in education and journalism. She received a B.A. in elementary education (History and Science) from Olivet College and worked in the Lansing School District. She has also worked in the Lansing State Journal newsroom, where she was a copy editor, assistant news editor and finally news and feature editor for many years. As features editor, she contributed content by writing articles, taking photos and videos, maintaining website pages and social media presence. In 2012, she was recognized by LSJ Media with the Greater Good Award for Community Involvement.

“Cindy’s background is a great addition to our Sea Grant Extension Program and is needed to oversee our strategic communications in collaboration with our U of M Sea Grant partners,” said Bill Taylor, associate director of MSG.

Hudson is not new to MSU Extension. She is a certified master gardener volunteer and often volunteers at the MSU Horticulture Gardens. In 2014, she was named Volunteer of the Year and she was very excited to get a brick in the sidewalk with her name on it!

In addition to gardening, Hudson loves bird watching and being outdoors. She competes in triathlons and finished her first DALMAC (Lansing to Sault Ste. Marie) bike ride in 2014.

“While I love all of the Great Lakes, my sentimental favorite is Lake Michigan because my husband proposed on a beach there,” said Hudson.

Hudson is based in in the MSG office at Michigan State University. Contact: (517) 353-9723 or hudsoncy@anr.msu.edu.


Rhett Register, Communications Program Leader

Rhett Register-2

Photo: Becky Kirkland

Beginning in July, Rhett Register will join Michigan Sea Grant as Communications Program Leader. In his new role, Register will work with the Management Team to determine communications goals and strategies for the program. Working from the University of Michigan office, he will manage and coordinate projects, work with team members to produce the Upwellings newsletter and other outreach materials, explore grant-funding opportunities and provide general communications support.

“I am excited to join the outstanding team at Michigan Sea Grant,” Register says. “Though I am not from the area, I feel my experience covering coastal and freshwater topics will be applicable and useful in Michigan.”

Prior to joining Michigan Sea Grant, Register was a Science Writer and Editor with North Carolina Sea Grant and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina System. While there, he covered topics ranging from invasive species to water quality.

He has previously worked as a researcher with National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler, has worked for a city newspaper in Oregon and has taught English — including three years in Japan.

Register holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree from the Marine Resource Management program at Oregon State University.


James Roche, Intern

James Roche

James Roche has joined Michigan Sea Grant as a summer intern with the Extension Program office at Michigan State University. Roche will focus on developing case studies of the interconnections between the Great Lakes region and the rest of the world. His main focus for these case studies will be how Great Lakes commerce, ballast water and invasive species have impacted Great Lakes water quality, ecosystems and communities that depend upon them.

Roche says, “Examining the Great Lakes region’s global interconnectedness in an interdisciplinary manner — called telecoupling — can help us enhance the Sea Grant Extension programs by educating residents, communities, and other decision-making stakeholders on how to address sustainability related questions.”

Roche, a Michigan State University undergraduate, will soon graduate with a science technology and public policy specialization. He will participate in the Hal and Jean Glassen Scholars Program this summer, which focuses on developing a well-trained, dedicated workforce across public, private and nongovernmental sectors to address natural resources management and conservation issues.

Roche is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for fishing and canoeing. He is also a fan of golf and looks forward to playing the local courses and enjoying the summer weather.

“I am most fond of Lake Michigan. I visit the lake a couple times every summer to enjoy the beaches and refreshing water,” said Roche.

Roche is based in in the MSG office at Michigan State University Contact: (517) 884-8511 or rochejam1@gmail.com.



National Water Trails Forum, June 24-26, Ann Arbor, MI

Lake St. Clair Water Trail Kick off, New Baltimore, MI

This inaugural forum will bring National Water Trails managers and partners together to learn cutting-edge best practices and to build the water trails learning network. The National Water Trails System is a network of water trails open to the public, supported by a community of resource managers that share and collaborate to continually improve upon trail systems. At the Forum, leaders and mangers will learn from one another, showcase the strengths of different National Water Trails, address issues, solve problems and build a stronger network that supports water trails.

Plenary and discussion sessions will address issues and topics identified by water trail leaders across the country. A field day session will take water trail practitioners to visit the Island Loop National Water Trail, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron, as well as Belle Isle habitat restoration sites and the Outdoor Adventure Center in Detroit.

Michigan Sea Grant serves on the local host committee, helping to coordinate event logistics including speakers and activities for the field day. “We are pleased to host water trail practitioners from all across the country here in metro Detroit where we will showcase the hard work, dedication and impacts of two local water trails that have received national designation, as well as several others working toward designation,” said Mary Bohling, Southeast Michigan Sea Grant Educator.

More information and registration 


Summer Discovery Cruises

summer discovery cruise

Summer Discovery Cruises are for anyone who wants to learn more about our Great Lakes by being on the lakes. More than twenty cruise themes are offered this year, so whether you are interested in fisheries, lighthouses, wetlands, shipping, Great Lakes science, shipwrecks, rum running (historical, not present day!) or maritime music, you will find cruises that are both enjoyable and educational.

Cruises are offered at both Lake St. Clair Metropark and Lake Erie Metropark. The season starts June 13, so don’t miss the boat!