News and Events

Huron-Michigan Predator Diet Study gears up for summer

Student researchers at MSU are busy analyzing the contents of fish stomachs collected by Great Lakes anglers.

The fish diet study team gathers in the MSU fish research lab, including (back from left) Nick Green, Mark Hamlyn, Nick Yeager, Dr. Dan O’Keefe, Dr, Brian Roth, Brok Lamorandier, (front from left) Katie Kierczynski, Jasmine Czajka. Photo: Katelyn Brolick

The fish diet study team gathers in the MSU fish research lab, including (back from left) Nick Green, Mark Hamlyn, Nick Yeager, Dr. Dan O’Keefe, Dr, Brian Roth, Brok Lamorandier, (front from left) Katie Kierczynski, Jasmine Czajka. Photo: Katelyn Brolick

Future Spartan already building MSU network through underwater robotics, science career exploration

Alpena High School student assisting sturgeon science team in capturing video, data in the Black River.

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

High school is a good time to explore career opportunities—an idea that one Alpena High School student has taken to heart. Liz Thomson soon will be a proud student of Michigan State University. However even before attending MSU, she has combined on-the-job career exploration with networking at the college.

This past year (and upcoming summer), Thomson has worked for Michigan Sea Grant and gained experience that cross-connects her passion for underwater robotics with an interest in future science careers. Along the way she has found many opportunities for fun and to add engaging learning, leadership, and career experiences to her resume.

Dr. Kim Scribner and Doug Larson lead a lake sturgeon research team from MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. They are embarking on a new citizen science project to track movement of spawning sturgeon along with other fish species in the Black River (Cheboygan River Watershed). Thomson is contributing to the project.

The MSU sturgeon science team is installing cameras above the water to capture video of the variety of large fish migrating in the Black River during the springtime sturgeon spawning season. Thomson explored underwater video options and also helped install an underwater camera which will be used help to verify species identification in video data collected during this project. Her project reflects a career exploration opportunity supported by the Michigan Sea Grant and a recently funded Great Lakes NOAA B-WET grant supporting meaningful watershed education experiences for youth across northeast Michigan.

Thomson has fostered her expertise in applying underwater technology toward science through her leadership with the Alpena 4-H Underwater Robotics club and involvement with NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s MATE Underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) competition.

She has been part of several underwater robotics teams who have built and successfully competed across the state and nation. She also has been involved in a variety of hands-on Great Lakes and natural resource learning experiences in elementary, middle and high school through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI). The initiative is a regional place-based education network and partnership for which MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant provide leadership.

Photo shows Liz Thomson who is the subject of the story

With this new project, Thomson is able to explore careers in Great Lakes and natural resources, and support research designed to better connect citizens with stewardship of the state-threatened lake sturgeon.

While employed by Michigan Sea Grant, Thomson has supported Great Lakes educational programs in northeast Michigan ranging from fisheries science to youth education projects. “Michigan Sea Grant has given me lots of great connections and networking opportunities from the lake sturgeon project and from the NEMIGLSI network,” Thompson said. “Working with the Sea Grant staff has allowed me to develop my skills with data entry and summarizing evaluations and surveys.”

Beyond this in-the-water project, Thomson has been working with a local Sturgeon for Tomorrow Chapter and educators from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to adapt their sturgeon education program for Great Lakes educator audiences. This summer she hopes to pilot some adapted educational activities with teachers – and data collected through this sturgeon citizen science project will be integrated as part of these adapted lessons.

Lake sturgeon exhibit opens at Belle Isle Aquarium

Sturgeon model on the move! Photo: Mary Bohling

An exhibit celebrating Michigan’s ancient, iconic lake sturgeon opened at Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium on May 25.

On loan from Michigan Sea Grant, the exhibit was previously on display at the Michigan Science Center and features an intricate, life-sized model of an adult female lake sturgeon. This 6-foot-long model gives visitors a close-up look at the features that make the lake sturgeon such a unique inhabitant of the Great Lakes. Visitors can also meet Belle Isle Aquarium’s living population of young lake sturgeon, who are at least 15 years away from maturity.

The exhibit’s engaging interpretive materials tell the story of the lake sturgeon and its connections to local ecosystems and economies. “We want to show this iconic species to the people who would not necessarily see sturgeon in their lifetime or don’t even know it exists in the waters surrounding Detroit,” says Amy Emmert, Belle Isle Aquarium’s director of education.

These ancient fish once thrived in the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, serving as an important food source for Native American tribes. Due to overfishing and habitat loss, lake sturgeon populations today are estimated to be at one percent of their historical levels. In recent years, many local partners have worked to raise awareness and restore habitat for lake sturgeon in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers.

“The display allows us to demonstrate how conservation can be accomplished through partnerships, education, and local efforts,” says Emmert. “The exhibit highlights restoration efforts, such as new rocky reefs created to provide egg-laying habitats for lake sturgeon off Belle Isle and throughout the Detroit River.”

The Belle Isle Aquarium is open to visitors Friday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Parking and admission are free.

To learn more, visit: www.belleisleconservancy.org/belle-isle-aquarium and www.miseagrant.umich.edu/explore/restoration/restoring-fish-habitat-st-clair-river/

Visit the sturgeon display in its new home on Belle Isle. Photo: Mary Bohling

This entry was posted in News.

Visit Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit near Charlevoix

Event Date: 8/11/2018
End Date: 9/23/2018

East Jordan is second stop for traveling Smithsonian exhibit

East Jordan will be the second of six Michigan communities to host the Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways exhibit in 2018. Water/Ways is a unique display and event series that explores the essential role of water in our environment, economy, and society.

The Water/Ways exhibit will begin in June 2018 and close in April 2019, stopping at each site for a six-week period. Host sites will complement the exhibit with programming focused on the local history and information about water in each area.

A statewide Great Lakes-specific exhibit will also travel to each location as part of The Great Lakes Water Heritage Project, offered in partnership by the Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Humanities Council, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Michigan State University. It will feature regional and local Great Lakes history, facts, and simple ways for people to practice everyday water stewardship. 

The six host sites and dates of the exhibit are:

Beaver Island–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Beaver Island Historical Society June 23 – August 5, 2018

East Jordan–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Raven Hill Discovery Center August 11 – September 23, 2018

Big Rapids–Mecosta County 
Venue: Artworks September 29 – November 11, 2018

Harrisville–Alcona County 
Venue: Alcona Public Library November 17 – December 30, 2018

Niles–Berrien County 
Venue: Niles Public Library January 5 – February 17, 2019

Owosso–Shiawassee County 
Venue: Shiawassee Arts Center  February 23 – April 7, 2019

This entry was posted in Events.

Visit Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit on Beaver Island

Event Date: 6/23/2018
End Date: 8/5/2018

Beaver Island is first stop for traveling Smithsonian exhibit

Beaver Island is the first of six Michigan communities to host the Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways exhibit in 2018. Water/Ways is a unique display and event series that explores the essential role of water in our environment, economy, and society.

The Water/Ways exhibit will begin in June 2018 and close in April 2019, stopping at each site for a six-week period. Host sites will complement the exhibit with programming focused on the local history and information about water in each area.

A statewide Great Lakes-specific exhibit will also travel to each location as part of The Great Lakes Water Heritage Project, offered in partnership by the Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Humanities Council, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Michigan State University. It will feature regional and local Great Lakes history, facts, and simple ways for people to practice everyday water stewardship. 

The six host sites and dates of the exhibit are:

Beaver Island–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Beaver Island Historical Society June 23 – August 5, 2018

East Jordan–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Raven Hill Discovery Center August 11 – September 23, 2018

Big Rapids–Mecosta County 
Venue: Artworks September 29 – November 11, 2018

Harrisville–Alcona County 
Venue: Alcona Public Library November 17 – December 30, 2018

Niles–Berrien County 
Venue: Niles Public Library January 5 – February 17, 2019

Owosso–Shiawassee County 
Venue: Shiawassee Arts Center  February 23 – April 7, 2019

This entry was posted in Events.

Six Michigan communities will host Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit

Six Michigan communities have been selected to host the Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways exhibit in 2018. Water/Ways is a unique exhibit that explores the essential role of water in our environment, economy, and society.

The Water/Ways exhibit will begin in June 2018 and close in April 2019, stopping at each site for a six-week period. Host sites will complement the exhibit with programming focused on the local history and information about water in each area.

A statewide Great Lakes-specific exhibit will also travel to each location as part of The Great Lakes Water Heritage Project, offered in partnership by the Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Humanities Council, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Michigan State University. It will feature regional and local Great Lakes history, facts, and simple ways for people to practice everyday water stewardship. 

The six host sites and dates of the exhibit are:

Beaver Island–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Beaver Island Historical Society June 23 – August 5, 2018

East Jordan–Charlevoix County 
Venue: Raven Hill Discovery Center August 11 – September 23, 2018

Big Rapids–Mecosta County 
Venue: Artworks September 29 – November 11, 2018

Harrisville–Alcona County 
Venue: Alcona Public Library November 17 – December 30, 2018

Niles–Berrien County 
Venue: Niles Public Library January 5 – February 17, 2019

Owosso–Shiawassee County 
Venue: Shiawassee Arts Center  February 23 – April 7, 2019

This entry was posted in News.

Videos address Lake Michigan fisheries management, prey fish, and mass marking

In case you missed the South Haven Fisheries Workshop, videos recap presentations on the state of Lake Michigan fisheries.

Videos address Lake Michigan fisheries management, prey fish, and mass marking

On April 19 the Southern Lake Michigan Regional Fisheries Workshop was hosted by Michigan Sea Grant in conjunction with South Haven Steelheaders. This annual event draws local South Haven anglers in addition to big lake fishing enthusiasts from around southwest Michigan.

The evening meeting featured a brief update on Sea Grant activities including the Huron-Michigan Diet Study and other citizen scienceprograms, followed by three presentations that are now available on the Michigan Sea Grant YouTube channel. The evening concluded with two presentations on cisco (similar to those offered at the Ludington workshop) and a short discussion on the topic of cisco management options.

The latest video presentations focus on recent developments in Lake Michigan fisheries management and the latest results from forage fish monitoring and mass marking.

Lake Michigan Management Plan

Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan Basin Coordinator with Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), discussed the DNR’s Lake Michigan Management Plan and the public process that accompanied development of the plan, which was approved in January.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • invasive species prevention
  • improvement of habitat connectivity in rivers that feed into Lake Michigan
  • maintaining predator-prey balance

The plan strives to maintain a diverse fishery focused primarily on Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead with additional opportunities for other species. Marketing the lake’s excellent fishing opportunities with products like the new Roadmap to Lake Michigan Fishing is also a priority. See the video for more details and Jay’s overview of stocking options for 2019 (beginning at 16:17).

Forage Fish Monitoring

Chuck Madenjian, Research Fishery Biologist with U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center, gave an update on forage fish abundance in Lake Michigan. This is always a topic of interest to anglers because salmon and trout depend on alewife and other forage fish for food. Total forage fish biomass (as estimated from bottom trawls) was the fourth lowest recorded since 1973. Hydroacoustic and midwater trawl sampling showed that the 2017 alewife year-class was relatively weak, but better than the very poor 2013 and 2014 year-classes. See the video for discussion of differences between sampling gears and more details on prey fish distribution around the lake.

Great Lakes Mass Marking Program

Matt Kornis of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gave an update on the Great Lakes Mass Marking Program. Wild reproduction of Chinook salmon is estimated based on the ratio of stocked to wild Age 1 fish, so 2017 data were used to estimate production of 4.2 million wild Chinook salmon in 2016. This is about average for wild reproduction in recent history, and a big increase from the poor 2013 wild year-class (1.1 million) and 2015 wild year-class (2.2 million). See video for more results from salmon and lake trout tag recovery and diet studies for trout, salmon, and burbot.

The 2018 Southern Lake Michigan Fishery Workshop was a great chance to meet fisheries professionals and learn more about the status of gamefish and preyfish populations. Balancing predators and prey is a perennial topic at these workshops, and all three recorded presentations related to this theme.

2018 Summer Discovery Cruises

Event Date: 6/13/2018
End Date: 9/15/2018

What do shipwrecks, wetlands, fisheries, research and birds all have in common? Those are just some of the topics featured on board these fun, interesting, and educational boat trips.

Got fish? You will if you join one of our fisheries-themed cruises this summer! Photo: Steve Stewart, Michigan Sea Grant

Got fish? You will if you join one of our fisheries-themed cruises this summer! Photo: Steve Stewart, Michigan Sea Grant

The 2018 season of educational Summer Discovery Cruises begins June 14 as the education vessel Clinton sets sail from Lake Erie Metropark for the upper reaches of the Detroit River. This first cruise is a special 5-hour “Journey through the Straits” cruise, sailing north from Lake Erie through the entire length of the Detroit River. Starting within the boundary of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, we’ll pass Grosse Ile and Fighting Island, get a close look at the steel industry in River Rouge, see Historic Fort Wayne, cruise under the Ambassador Bridge, view Detroit’s incredible downtown waterfront up close, and pass to the west of Belle Isle before docking.

Following the Journey through the Straitsthe Clinton will sail on Lake St. Clair for two weeks in late June and July, operating out of the Lake St. Clair Metropark marina. The second half of the summer is spent on Lake Erie and the lower Detroit River.

Join us on the water for our 17th year of learning about the magnificent Great Lakes! There are more than 20 cruise themes to choose from this summer. Topics range from lighthouses, wildlife, shipwrecks, bootleggers and history, to fisheries, ecology, wetlands, habitat restoration and weather.

A new cruise added this year coincides with Macomb County’s bicentennial. This cruise – “200 Years Around Lake St. Clair” – will look back at what life was like around Lake St. Clair long ago. From the first people of the region to the European fur traders, explorers, and settlers, participants will learn how the natural history of Lake St. Clair influenced the human history and use of this magnificent lake.

Summer Discovery Cruises range from 2.5 to 5 hours on the water and range in price from $15-$35 per person. The cruises are a collaborative effort between Michigan State University ExtensionMichigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a number of program partners, including DTE Energy, Michigan DNR, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and the National Weather Service.

The 2018 Summer Discovery Cruises season begins June 14, with the final cruise offered Sept. 15. Registration is now open for both individuals (ages six and above) and for groups. For more information or to register, go to www.discoverycruises.org.

Get ready to celebrate Earth Day

Saginaw Bay region hosting hands-on activities on April 21, 2018 to celebrate Earth Day.

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Earth Day celebrates our planet’s natural resources each year on April 22. First celebrated in 1970 with the support of Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day signals the launch of the modern environmental movement. From hosting events to raise community awareness about environmental issues to leading stewardship efforts, there are many ways to celebrate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has a list of Earth Day activities around the state, and in the Saginaw Bay region, community members have many opportunities.

  • At 8:30 a.m. April 21, 2018, Bay City residents can participate in Ed Golson’s 24th Annual Compost Event, where they can pick up compost at a site under Vet’s Bridge. Compost has many gardening benefits and is an efficient way to break down organic waste. Participants must bring their own shovel and container for this self-serve event. At 9 a.m., there will be two litter cleanups hosted at Golson Park (Boat Launch) and the River Walk & Rail Trail (800 John F. Kennedy Dr.). For more information on these opportunities, please visit Bay City’s Earth Day event page.
  • Bay County Extension 4-H Tech Wizards also have an event this year in partnership with the City Market. Participating the Earth Day Bag Project, 4-H members will learn about the impact of single-use plastics on our Great Lakes and ocean and will share the information with the public by decorating paper grocery bags. The decorated bags will be given to customers April 21 at the City Market to raise awareness about the importance of refusing to single use. 
  • Volunteers also are welcome to join U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21, in Saginaw for an Earth Day Clean-up. Participants will tally litter found, and by removing the debris, they will help improve habitat for the migratory waterfowl.
  • The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw is also hosting an Earth Day event as their season opener from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21. There will be games and activities with the support of the Mid Michigan Waste Authority. The first 400 people with a recyclable beverage container will receive free admission.
  • In Midland, the 13th Annual Earth Day Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at the Midland Center for the Arts. Co-sponsored by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, the American Chemical Society – Midland Section and Midland Recyclers, this free event offers hands-on activities connecting to the theme, “Dive into Water Chemistry.”

Celebrating our Earth and its natural resources does not need to be limited to just Earth Day. Here are some daily practices that reduce waste and also protect our Great Lakes and oceans. Using the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker Application or the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, community members can organize their own litter cleanups, where they also collect citizen science data. Communities can help reduce marine debris by raising awareness about the common types of litter found locally.

Head to Houghton for a Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop on April 30, 2018

Event Date: 4/30/2018

Presentations include updates on several important fish issues, public encouraged to attend and provide input.

flyer describes locations and dates for annual fishery workshops

Michigan Sea Grant workshops are intended to inform the angling community and general public about fish populations and management. This year, in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), our Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop will be held at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. The workshop will feature a variety of talks from the university and management agencies of the MDNR and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The talks will help anglers and the general public understand what research is taking place on the lake and how it is informing fisheries management decisions. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers allowing anglers to give valuable input.

The workshop will be 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 30, 2018, at the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University. The address 100 Phoenix Drive, Houghton, MI 49931. Parking is free after 4 p.m. at the adjacent lot 31.

Presentations (see agenda) this year will include:

  • Buffalo Reef and Stamp Sands Updates – MDEQ and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
  • Coaster Brook Trout Population State – MI Tech Great Lakes Research Center
  • Lake Trout Status, Updates, and Isle Royale Populations – MDNR Fisheries Division
  • Ghost Nets – WI Sea Grant
  • Lake Superior Angler Creel Data –  MDNR Fisheries Division
  • MI Tech Great Lakes Research and Facility Tour – Great Lakes Research Center

The Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop is free and open to all interested participants. Registration is requested, but walk-ins are welcome. Register online.

Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to learn about what is happening with the Lake Superior Fisheries!