October 2017

It’s October and the air grows crisp. Classrooms bustle, leaves burst into flame, and fishing poles head back into garages and basements until next year. At Michigan Sea Grant, the summer’s flurry is dying down and action is moving indoors. Fall gives us an opportunity to catch our breath and regroup. We’re planning conferences and workshops, taking care of paperwork, and getting back to projects put on hold for the summer.

Before the echoes of summer fade, take a moment to see what we’ve been up to over the past few months. Meet the newest face in our Ann Arbor office, peek into the life of a Great Lakes research ship, read about stable charter fishing numbers and declining lake levels, and more.

Teachers embrace “Great Lakes love” during hands-on shipboard workshop

Workshop participants try on cold water immersion suits — which, despite their goofy looks, save lives on the lakes. Photo: Justin Selden, Michigan State University Extension

“Impactful, engaging, and informative.”

“Doing science together.”

When asked for three-word reflections on their week aboard a federal research vessel, 15 Great Lakes teachers had a lot to say:

“Reflective. Enlightening. Nerdy.”

“Great Lakes love.”

A select group of educators from across the Great Lakes region spent a week in July aboard a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research vessel to learn about how scientific research is conducted on the Great Lakes.

The annual vessel-based workshop is designed to promote Great Lakes science and best practices in formal and informal education. The workshop also helps forge lasting relationships between science researchers and educators. The 2017 cruise focused on Lake Huron.

This year, the 15 participating teachers boarded the R/V Lake Guardian in Detroit early on July 8. Over the next week, they cruised the length of Lake Huron, working with scientists to study fish, plankton, water chemistry, invasive species, and other aspects of the lake.

Teachers learned how to use scientific equipment such as the Rosette, a tool for collecting water samples at various depths; the PONAR grab sampler, a shovel-like device used for sampling the lake bottom; and nets designed to catch everything from plankton to adult fish.

Zebra and quagga mussels dominated sampling runs. Photo: Justin Selden, Michigan State University Extension

The teachers took turns blogging about their onboard experiences. “In just a matter of seven days, I feel like our group went from knowing relatively little about the life of a scientist on the Great Lakes to having a fairly good idea of what scientists actually do,” writes Jeff Kalember, a chemistry teacher at Gaylord High School in Gaylord, MI.

Researchers benefit from spending time with the teachers, as well. “It is incredibly valuable for me to interact closely with educators around the region,” says Stephen Hensler, a researcher on the cruise and director of the Cerulean Center, a Great Lakes research organization. “This experience helped me hone ideas and make connections to encourage collaboration among Great Lakes researchers and educators, which I believe we need to achieve the best future for the Great Lakes ecosystem we all rely on and benefit from.”

The educators also took part in onshore activities that highlighted place-based education. At the Besser Museum in Alpena, they toured a fossil exhibit designed by students and a restored 1930s-era fishing tug. At Alpena’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, they built remotely operated vehicles that help students learn about aquatic research.

Remotely operated vehicles aren’t just fun to build, they help the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary investigate shipwrecks and underwater habitats. Photo: Justin Selden, Michigan State University Extension

Along the way, experts joined the group to talk about shoreline restoration, aquatic habitats, sturgeon spawning, freighters, sea ports and cargo, and more.

The annual event is co-hosted by the U.S. EPA and the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, a collaborative effort led by Sea Grant educators throughout the Great Lakes watershed. Funding comes from grants through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

To learn more about the workshop, including how to apply, visit www.cgll.org. Read the educators’ blog posts — and watch a recap video — here.

In 2018, the Lake Guardian — and the next round of educators — will set sail in Lake Ontario. Photo: Michigan State University Extension

Happy birthday, Freshwater Feasts!

Are you tempted by that fillet of rainbow trout at the grocery store? Wondering where to get a tasty seafood meal in St. Ignace? Intrigued by your coworker’s plate of artsy fish cookies?

We have just the blog for you. Michigan Sea Grant’s food blog, Freshwater Feasts, turns one year old this month. Over the past year, Freshwater Feasts has become a repository for our staff’s kitchen adventures, tasty discoveries at Michigan restaurants, and recipe round-ups for events like holiday parties and crayfish boils.

Follow Michigan Sea Grant on Facebook or Twitter to find out when new posts are published. In the meantime, check out our catalog of mouthwatering posts, such as Vanessa Pollok’s stunning fishy Christmas cookies and Dan O’Keefe’s teriyaki fish kabobs. Bon appétit!

The rainbow trout reuben at Ann Arbor’s Avalon Cafe and Kitchen offers a tasty twist on a classic sandwich. Photo: Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

A new face at Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to welcome Erin De Vries as our new program coordinator.

Erin joins the Ann Arbor office and will work closely with Research Program Manager Catherine Riseng to coordinate Michigan Sea Grant’s research and reporting cycles. Erin brings her skills in community-based ecological planning and resource conservation to several Michigan Sea Grant projects, including the Michigan Clean Marina Program and Sustainable Small Harbors workshops.

“We are happy to have Erin join our staff,” Catherine says. “Erin’s background and experience will expand Michigan Sea Grant’s abilities to share the real-world applications of our research studies with coastal communities.”

No stranger to the Sea Grant family, Erin spent six years at Lake Champlain Sea Grant, based at the University of Vermont in Burlington. During that time, she strengthened the University of Vermont Watershed Alliance Program and collaborated on statewide education initiatives, green infrastructure, and Clean Marina projects.

Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Franklin Pierce College (now Franklin Pierce University) in New Hampshire and a master’s degree in natural resource planning from the University of Vermont Field Naturalist and Ecological Planning Program.

“This is the position I have been waiting to find for the past year after moving with my family to Ann Arbor,” says Erin. “I am happy to be back working with Sea Grant, Extension specialists, and communication experts who all appreciate how important freshwater is to our environment, our economy, and our health. I look forward to meeting project partners and community leaders who can teach me about this beautiful peninsula.”

When she’s not at the office, Erin can usually be found walking, biking, or running with her family on Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border Trail. She loves cooking and brewing beer and cider with her husband Greg (a Michigander) as well as baking with her son and daughter. She completed her first half-marathon in June and hopes to hike the Potawatomi Trail in nearby Pinckney State Recreation Area with her family next summer.

Detroit River restoration tour celebrates successful partnerships

The Detroit River has seen its fair share of environmental challenges. Now, after years of dedicated restoration work, the Detroit River and its ecosystems are heading toward recovery.

On Thursday, August 17, the Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Sea Grant, and a host of partners celebrated the hard work and dedication of those who have helped shape a new future for the Detroit River. Participants gathered on Grosse Ile for a morning boat tour to get a first-hand look at restored fish and bird habitat. They later reconvened on Belle Isle for a lunchtime program at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and a guided bus tour of Belle Isle restoration projects, such as Lake Okonoka and the now-thriving Blue Heron Lagoon.

“Today, thanks to dedicated community partners, and with the critical help of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, waters in our region have been completely transformed,” says Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, whose remarks helped launch the morning’s festivities on Grosse Ile.

Flip through a Flickr photo gallery of the celebration to meet some of the many partners — human and otherwise — who attended the celebration!

U.S. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence poses with a special sturgeon guest at the August 17 celebration. Photo: Kyle Brown, Michigan Sea Grant

Artist in the park

Todd Marsee brings his award-winning watercolor art to shows and fairs around the region. Photo: Kara Marsee

When opportunity knocks, Todd Marsee opens the door with his paintbrush in hand.

Michigan Sea Grant is proud to announce that Todd — our graphic designer, photographer, and award-winning watercolor artist — has been selected as the 2017 Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Artist in Residence.

The competitive Pictured Rocks residency includes a three-week stay at a cabin within the park, just a stone’s throw from the shore of Lake Superior. From September through early October, Todd was free to hike, kayak, camp — and, of course, paint — surrounded by beautiful Upper Peninsula colors and textures.

In return, Todd hosted an outdoor painting demonstration near Miner’s Castle, a photogenic rock formation and one of the park’s most popular destinations. He also donated a painting to the park’s collection.

Todd’s watercolor art usually features natural imagery overlaid on abstract, textured backgrounds. “My paintings are interpretations of the fragile beauty and resilience of nature,” Todd says. “Textures, patterns, and designs of nature inspire me to paint. I’m eager to see how these three weeks in the Upper Peninsula will be visible in my art.”

Todd’s first trip to Pictured Rocks two decades ago helped shape his artistic style. Photo: Todd Marsee

Todd’s watercolor pieces frequently appear in Michigan Sea Grant outreach and communications materials, including the cover of our March 2017 print edition of Upwellings. Check out his art at marseegallery.com or his artist Facebook page.

Congratulations, Todd!

Save the date

2017 Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference

October 12-13, 2017, in Leland, MI

Michigan’s rich history of recreational and commercial fishing presents unique opportunities for recreation and tourism around the state. The 2017 Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference celebrates the economic, social, and recreational opportunities communities can gain by leveraging these historical connections.

Participants at this year’s conference will explore opportunities to better use internet technology to archive, share, and connect the work in their local communities, museums, and libraries with others across the state.

Learn more about the conference and Fisheries Heritage Trails here.

5th National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium

May 14-17, 2018, in Grand Rapids, MI

The riverfront cities of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, depend on vital waterfront infrastructure. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

From public fishing docks to bustling industrial piers, waterfront infrastructure sustains economic and recreational activity in waterfront communities around the country.

Next year’s National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium will bring together representatives from businesses, non-profits, universities, all levels of government, and more to share resources and best practices to help waterfront communities thrive.

Get conference details here.



From Extension

Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators write informative articles on a variety of subjects — from ancient underwater hunting grounds to seasonal shifts in Great Lakes levels. Below are some of their articles from the past few months.

Michigan and Huron lake levels have peaked for 2017

By Mark Breederland

The lakes will lose more than a trillion gallons of water during the seasonal decline.

Read more

Lake Michigan’s charter fishing industry is remarkably stable

By Dan O’Keefe

Despite recent ups and downs in fishing success, charter fishing has remained a consistent part of coastal tourism.

Read more

Experience Fishtown during Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Conference

By Brandon Schroeder

The event will explore opportunities for using fisheries heritage to promote education and tourism.

Read more

Evidence of prehistoric caribou hunters found below Lake Huron

By Ron Kinnunen

Research continues on an underwater ridge that once split Lake Huron in two.

Read more

Students team up with MISG for native fish

By Dan O’Keefe

A threatened fish called the river redhorse stars in the newest “Native Fish Heroes” poster.

Read more