News and Events

Extinction is Forever… Science Cafe Featuring MSG Director

Event Date: 10/22/2014

What: October Science Café Featuring Michigan Sea Grant Director Jim Diana as a panelist.
When: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22
Where: Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub
Cost: Free
Who: Hosted by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Hunting, fishing, habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and toxic algae blooms — the Great Lakes area can be a dangerous place for rare species! In commemoration of the death of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon 100 years ago, the discussion will focus on the forces that cause extinction, and current efforts at conservation in and near the Great Lakes. 

How does what is going on locally relate to global biodiversity challenges? Join Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez and Johann es Foufopoulos of the U-M School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) and Jim Diana, Professor of SNRE and Director of Michigan Sea Grant, for a lively discussion of past errors, current efforts and future biodiversity.

Science Cafés provide an opportunity for audiences to discuss current science topics with experts in an informal setting.

2014 Thumb Tourism Workshop and Bus Tour

Event Date: 11/17/2014

Thumb tourism workshop and bus tour provides scientific information and hands-on visits to local destinations.

This regional workshop is aimed at enhancing knowledge and strengthening opportunities for stakeholders and destinations to benefit from sustainable tourism.

The interactive workshop is free and open to the public. It will provide valuable information including current tourism research data, a look at various niche markets and examples employable in communities to foster tourism development.

The bus tour will include stops in Gagetown, Port Austin, Port Hope, Harbor Beach and Bad Axe as well as tourism destination information for points in between and beyond. Tour participants will experience Thumb destinations such as historic sites, a winery, coastal assets and an internet café.

This workshop is intended for tourism professionals, community and economic development professionals, and other interested community members.

You are invited to participate! See: Registration

Brief Agenda:

  • 8:15am Registration/Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30am Understanding Tourism in Your Community Presentation
  • 10:00am Bus Tour Departs Library
  • 5:30 pm Return to Library

See: Tour Flier 2014

How MSG Connects

16 Ways

16 Ways Michigan Sea Grant Has Engaged Stakeholders

The heart and soul of Michigan Sea Grant is working with many different stakeholders. The MSG team ensures the work is relevant and useful to stakeholders by conducting needs assessment and constituent surveys and through a variety of other outreach efforts. The following 16 examples were highlighted because they show the scope of MSG’s program.

  1. MSG has been educating the public about dangerous currents in the Great Lakes by working with natural resource professionals, as well as developing lessons and a web portal that includes NOAA data for decades.
  2. The Salmon Ambassadors program, developed by MSG, enlisted anglers to gather information on Chinook salmon caught over the course of a year, helping biologists understand how stocked and wild fish contribute to fishing success during the fishing season.
  3. Twenty teachers from the Lake Huron watershed basin engaged in a week-long experience to explore coastal wetlands and native fish species using robotic tools. Teachers learned how to apply their new Great Lakes knowledge in the classroom.
  4. MSG worked with a fisheries researcher to develop an online decision-support tool that has educated more than 200 fishery stakeholders about how climate change is likely to affect whitefish populations in the Great Lakes.
  5. MSG facilitated the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium of Michigan museums to broaden the preservation efforts of fisheries artifacts within the state.
  6. To help charter operations meet food-handling requirements, MSG developed a seafood safety and handling training video based upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points principles.
  7. MSG’s leadership and collaboration in the development of a unique lake-to-plate tourism program provided continued economic growth to the state’s charter fishing and restaurant industries, and was recognized by the state tourism industry as innovative and collaborative.
  8. MSG’s research is helping shape the careers of new professors and transforming the way university personnel collaborate and tackle complex real-world issues through Integrated Assessment research.
  9. MSG-supported research found that unidentified sources of contamination still exist in the Torch Lake Area of Concern. The project combined environmental engineering and anthropological data to persuade authorities to work together and to address PCB contamination.
  10. MSG developed a beach safety kit for parks with high incidence of dangerous currents along Lake Michigan to help save lives and create awareness of coastal hazards.
  11. An MSG research project is helping the Grand Traverse Bay area understand and prepare for the likely impacts of climate change on their water resources, crops and waterfronts.
  12. MSG developed a tool to address sustainable tourism development for Northeast Michigan. These communities recognize the economic potential of coastal tourism development but also worry about damage that could accompany an influx of visitors.
  13. Outreach educators from the Great Lakes region participated in a training workshop to learn more about climate change and adaptation tools that could be incorporated into outreach.
  14. MSG research led to improved water flows in a highly managed river system, and the modeling tools are being used in other similar river systems.
  15. MSG helped Michigan’s dwindling whitefish industry by supporting development of a cooperative that shifted focus from a single commodity to value-added products and increased earnings.
  16. MSG worked with fisheries specialists to create an easier-to-read and more engaging version of The Life of the Lakes as a vehicle to build Great Lakes literacy throughout the region.

Aquatic Invasive Species-HACCP Workshop in Clare, Michigan

Event Date: 10/21/2014

Michigan Sea Grant and partners are offering an opportunity to learn more about AIS-specific HACCP planning.

Baitfish and aquaculture industries are diverse and complex, as are their risks of spreading aquatic invasive species. Most industry segments pose no or very low risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. However, to deal effectively and fairly with this potential vector (avenue of exposure), one approach is to apply the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concept similar to that used by the seafood industry to minimize seafood consumption health risks.

What: Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension and the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) will offer an Aquatic Invasive Species-Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (AIS-HACCP)/Aquaculture Biosecurity Workshop.

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Where: Clare, Michigan at the Doherty Hotel
Cost: Free

For more information, contact Ron Kinnunen at or (906) 226-3687.

Steve Hernek, Dangerous Current Outreach Supporter, Passed Away

Mr. Steve Hernek passed away recently. Mr. Hernek and his family have owned the Dunes Shores Resort along Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula since 1960. The resort is located along US-2 on the shores of upper Lake Michigan where extremely dangerous currents are present. When the Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team was established, Mr. Hernek became an active member.

Ron Kinnunen, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator, said:
“(Mr. Hernek) had a great deal to add with his observations of dangerous currents over many years. Steve was involved with the research on dangerous currents in northern Lake Michigan and hosted the research team led by Guy Meadows at the Dunes Resort. Anyone who knew Steve could feel the enthusiasm that he projected. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Hernek also conducted dye studies and documented the movement of dangerous currents during storm events that were conducive to rip current formation.

See the obituary for Mr. Hernek online at the Dodson Funeral Home website.

Public Notice: Michigan Sea Grant Program Invites Comments

The Michigan Sea Grant College Program will undergo a program site visit and program review by a federally appointed Site Review Team October 28-29, 2014. Congress has mandated that Sea Grant College programs be regularly reviewed.

The National Sea Grant Office (NSGO) will review Sea Grant programs on three criteria:

  1. Program Management and Organization — leadership, organization, program team approach and support.
  2. Stakeholder Engagement — relevance, advisory services and relationships.
  3. Collaborative Network Activities — coordinated planning and cooperative work with other Sea Grant programs and other local, state and federal agencies and organizations.

Submit Comments By Oct. 21, 2014

If you would like to submit comments to the Site Review Team about Michigan Sea Grant, please send your written comments via email to


Questions may be directed to Mike Liffmann, NOAA Sea Grant Extension Leader and Program Officer,


About Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant supports research, outreach and education to enhance sustainable use of Great Lakes resources, benefiting the environment, the quality of life, and the Michigan, Great Lakes and national economy. Our vision is healthy and sustainable Great Lakes resources achieved through an integrated program that engages universities, as well as public and private sectors.

Michigan Sea Grant College Program, a cooperative effort of the University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU), is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program. Michigan Sea Grant receives support from NOAA, the UM School of Natural Resources and Environment and the MSU Extension – Greening Michigan Institute to carry out programs in Michigan. Also, additional Michigan universities, state agencies and other non-federal sources provide support.



Introduction to FieldScope Webinar

Event Date: 9/24/2014

Join the National Geographic Education team for an introduction to FieldScope, a tool for sharing, mapping and graphing data collected in citizen science projects. You’ll see a demonstration of basic FieldScope functions including photo and data uploads, graphing and mapping.

The FieldScope team will also highlight existing projects you and your students can participate in, such as Great Lakes FieldScope and others.

See: More Details and Registration Information

Aquaponics Workshop: Growing Your Dream

Event Date: 10/10/2014
End Date: 10/12/2014

Aqua Growers will host a three-day workshop Oct. 10-12 at the Aqua Growers teaching facility in Livonia, Mich.  Guest speakers will include Charlie Shultz of Lethbridge College, Alberta, Canada and Jim Gill and Ken Chio, both with Aqua Growers.

Schult will address the critical aspects of aquaponic food production systems. He is a world renowned speaker traveling to many countries to lecturing, and has authored or co-authored over 20 papers on the subject of aquaponics.

This workshop is specifically geared toward those who:

  • have a desire to learn more about aquaponics and healthier food
  • want to start and build a home system
  • want to start a commercial system or a k-12 school system
  • want to learn more about sustainable food systems

For more information on how to register, fees and more, see the Event Flyer (PDF)

Avian Botulism Confirmed in Grand Traverse Bay

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed on August 12, 2014 that about 24 mallard ducks died from type C avian botulism along the southern shore of East Grand Traverse Bay. The ducks were found in a localized, small area near the Acme Township/East Bay Township shoreline in Grand Traverse County. Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator based in northwest Michigan, Mark Breederland, put together the following article to address avian botulism in the Great Lakes.

What is Avian Botulism and Should we be Concerned?

Avian botulism is a food poisoning whereby waterfowl ingest a toxin which is produced by the naturally occurring rod-shaped bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Typically, these native bacteria live in a highly resistant spore stage and are of no impact to fish and wildlife; however, under the right circumstances (usually anaerobic conditions), the bacteria will germinate, produce and make bio-available one of nature’s most potent toxicants. The toxin causes muscular paralysis. Often the birds are unable to hold their head up and may drown or die from respiratory failure.  Avian botulism is also known as limberneck, due to the bird’s inability to hold up its head.

While small invertebrates (often maggots) are not impacted by the toxin, they often serve to pass the toxin up the food chain. A rotting carcass that has the botulism toxin in it and is decomposing along the shore can often be a source for maggots, and other scavenging birds such as gulls can possibly get botulism. This maggot-cycle is particularly important for type C botulism.

What is Type C Botulism vs. Type E Botulism?

Type C avian botulism is the neuromuscular disease which typically affects dabbler ducks, and possibly other shorebirds, that forage in the mud in both inland and Great Lake coastlines (see the poster from Michigan Sea Grant – Dabblers & Divers: Great Lakes Waterfowl) and eat invertebrates directly.  Type C impacts are felt in both inland lake and pond environments as well as in the Great Lakes shorelines.

Type E avian botulism usually impacts diver ducks in the Great Lakes where they dive deep and eat fish/mussels. Avian botulism outbreaks (type E) have occurred, with increased frequency in Lake Michigan along the northwest Michigan region since 2006, typically during the September-October-November time frame.

The mallard dabbler duck is the most abundant local duck in the Grand Traverse Bay region with strong population numbers and is the single species that was affected in the recent outbreak confirmed by the DNR. It is doubtful that a significant type C botulism outbreak would seriously impact population numbers of this species.

However, diving duck species such as common loons are a noteworthy species that have been impacted by type E botulism over a recent number of years. Common loons are a species of special concern in Michigan, and the full impact of the botulism kills are not known and a possible concern for loon population impacts in North America.


Additional Resources and Q & A

Michigan Sea Grant has published information and frequently asked questions concerning botulism which is applicable to both Type C and Type E, including:

  • Is it safe to walk dogs on the beach after a bird kill? 

If you bring pets to the shore, keep them away from dead animals on the beach. Dead wildlife may contain potentially harmful bacteria or toxins. In cases where you think your pet may have ingested a contaminated carcass, monitor them for signs of sickness and contact a veterinarian if you suspect they are falling ill.

  • Do I have to wash my hands after I touch a dead bird?
    Yes, you should always wash your hands after handling any wildlife. Ideally, you should also wear gloves to handle any dead animal.
  • Can I swim in the water?
    You are not at risk for botulism poisoning by swimming in Great Lakes waters. Botulism is only contracted by ingesting fish or birds contaminated with the toxin. If you have concerns about water quality, contact your local health department or swim in a regulated beach area.
  • How can people who want to help clean up the beach after a bird kill best protect themselves?
    People who handle dead wildlife should wear protective gear, such as disposable rubber gloves or an inverted plastic bag over their hands. In cases where a diseased or dead bird is handled without gloves, hands should be thoroughly washed with hot, soapy water or an anti-bacterial cleaner.
  • What is the best way to dispose of dead fish/birds in my area, especially after a botulism outbreak?
    Be sure to follow local wildlife agency (e.g., Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, etc.) recommendations in handling dead fish and wildlife. Wear disposable, rubber or plastic gloves or invert a plastic bag over your hands when handling sick, dead, or dying fish, birds or other animals. In certain areas, burying of the carcasses is allowed, while in other areas incineration may be recommended. If birds are to be collected, they should be placed in heavy plastic bags to avoid the spread of botulism-containing maggots.  The major goal should be to protect yourself, while also ensuring that the dead birds or fish are not available for consumption by other wildlife.


What to do if You Find Dead or Dying Birds

Any dead or dying birds that are found along the south shore of Grand Traverse Bay should be reported to the local Traverse City DNR office at (231) 922-5280, ext. 6832.

MSG’s Mark Breederland has been involved in providing educational programs on avian botulism for several years. If you would like a presentation for your work, social and school group, contact Mark at (231) 922.4628 or

Job Opportunity: Water Resources Extension Educator

Michigan State University and the Greening Michigan Institute are looking for an Extension Educator to focus on water resource issues in the Saginaw Bay area.

The person in this position will address issues such as localized water scarcity and conflict; water management in land use and economic development planning; water conservation and reuse by individual water users and communities; community capacity for comprehensive watershed planning; water policy education; and on-stream, off-stream and groundwater use conflicts.

For more details, visit and search for posting number 9823. The deadline to apply is September 14, 2014.