Do you want to learn about the Great Lakes by being on the Great Lakes? If so, you will want to learn more about our 2017 Summer Discovery Cruises season!
For the 16th summer, Michigan Sea Grant Extension will provide Michiganders (and visitors to Michigan) with the opportunity to learn about the Great Lakes by being on the Great Lakes. Cruises depart from Lake Erie Metropark, with cruises on the lower Detroit River and Lake Erie, and Lake St. Clair Metropark, cruising Lake St. Clair.
The 2017 season offers more than 20 educational cruises around themes such as Fisheries, Wildlife, Wetlands, Shipwrecks, Lighthouses, Weather, Shipping and more. Cruises for educators wanting to enhance the use of Great Lakes content in their teaching are also provided, with stipends.
Some of the exciting cruises for the 2017 season include:
Lake St. Clair Fisheries – This is not a fishing cruise, but it definitely is a “fishy” cruise! Learn first-hand about the fish that are found in Lake St. Clair, many of which are available for hands-on examination during the cruise. We will be joined by a Michigan DNR Fisheries Biologist and rendezvous with their research vessel while out on the lake to observe fish tagging, measuring and other research operations.
Warfare on the Waterfront – The War of 1812, World War II, and even the American Civil War have all shaped the Detroit River and western Lake Erie. Long after the end of hostilities, remnants of this military presence can still be found. Join an Interpreter for an in-depth look at these conflicts, their sites and stories, and see how they impacted the region and the world.
Shipwreck at Sugar – Just under the waves off a crumbling Sugar Island dock lie the remains of a vessel sank in 1945. Travel with our resident historian to the wreck site to learn about the S.S. Seabreeze, the story of how it got there and the circumstances surrounding its mysterious sinking.
Birds, Boats & Booze (4 hour history cruise) – Many things brought people to the St. Clair River Delta Flats area. The abundant wetlands brought duck hunters and fishing. Wood boats and passenger steamers brought tourism and recreation, and Prohibition brought rumrunners and speakeasies to the region. Spend a little more time in “the flats” with us as we cruise farther up the South Channel and share a little of the past including stories of the big hotels, Tashmoo Park, Chris Craft boat building and more.
Great Lakes Science for Kids – Learn about the ecology of Lake St. Clair or Lake Erie, by using the tools a Great Lakes Scientist uses to determine water quality by studying the plants and animals of the lakes. Try your hand at using a plankton net, bottom dredge, water testing kit, underwater camera, and binoculars to discover the exciting nature of the lake and become a Great Lakes Scientist!
To learn about the Great Lakes by being on the Great Lakes, visit the Summer Discovery Cruises web site at www.discoverycruises.org for complete cruise descriptions, locations, dates and times, as well as directions on how to register for your 2017 Summer Discovery Cruises. Don’t miss the boat!
The Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario, and their connecting channels – form the largest surface fresh water system on earth. Michigan is at the heart of that system, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes. Through research, education and outreach, Michigan Sea Grant is dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of the Great Lakes and coastal resources.
Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU). It is also part of a national network of more than 30 university-based Sea Grant programs in coastal states across the country, administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Each Sea Grant program has three components: research, education and outreach.
Nearly 110,000 students and adults have learned more about the Great Lakes since 1991 by participating in the Great Lakes Education Program. Designed though a collaboration involving Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the program provides students, their teachers and adult chaperones with an unforgettable on-the-water learning experience. The school ship Clinton will soon provide this on-the-water experience from the newly constructed fishing pier in the Refuge Gateway allowing thousands who share a common ownership of, and stewardship responsibility for, our great lakes.
Michigan Sea Grant staff has been involved in the DRIWR and IWRA since their inception in variety of ways. Today we recognize Michigan Sea Grant for their continued efforts in providing 26 years of classroom and vessel-based education in southeast Michigan and their commitment to furthering the mission of IWRA and the Refuge.
This May 24 workshop is a chance for anglers, and others to network, get updates from researchers, and agencies on Lake Superior Fisheries.
By Elliot Nelson
Do you like to fish on Lake Superior and want to know what others are catching on the lake? Are you curious how lake trout are being managed? Do you want to understand more about what invasive species are present and how they impact the Great Lakes? If the answer was yes to any of these questions, then the Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop is for you!
Michigan Sea Grant hosts a number of workshops across the Great Lakes that help inform the angling community and general public about fish populations and management. This year Michigan Sea Grant in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will host a Lake Superior Fisheries Workshop in Harvey, Mich., just outside of Marquette. The workshop will feature a variety of talks from managing agencies such as the MDNR, US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. 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 question and answers allowing anglers to give valuable input.
The workshop takes place 6 p.m.-9 p.m. May 24, 2017, at Chocolay Township Hall, 5010 US-41 Harvey, MI 49855. Parking is available at the Township Hall and overflow parking is available at the nearby Silver Creek Church just northwest of the facility.
Presentations will include:
Lake Superior Nearshore Sampling, Troy Zorn – MDNR: Fisheries Research
Aquatic Invasive Species Sampling and Update, Jared Myers – US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Lake Superior Prey Fish Updates, Dan Yule – US Geological Survey)
Lake Trout Status and Updates, Shawn Sitar – MDNR: Fisheries Research)
Sea Lamprey Control Status, Jessica Barber – US Fish and Wildlife Services)
While plastic monsters invade Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waterways, Alpena Elementary students create video to foster awareness of this issue among their local community.
By Brandon Schroeder
Alpena Public Schools students get ready for action while filming their video “Plastics 101.” Photo: RC Laugal
What is marine debris? It’s essentially human-made trash – large and small – that finds its way to oceans, our Great Lakes and inland waterways. A group of fifth-grade students from Alpena, Mich., want to help everyone understand what it is and what can be done to fight this problem. They created a movie and offer ideas about how everyone can contribute toward solutions. Watch their student-created film at: http://bit.ly/Plastics101.
In fall 2016, Bob Thomson’s Ella M. White Elementary fifth-grade students visited Thunder Bay River, where they used nets to trawl for plastics, and were shocked to find microplastics in our Northeast Michigan watershed. After analyzing samples from the river, fifth-grader Tucker Bright said, “If there are this many microplastics in this little sample, just imagine how many there are in the Great Lakes!” To raise awareness about finding plastics in the river and finding solutions to this problem, these Alpena Public Schools students developed a film, “Plastics 101.”
Before filmmaking, the students researched the topic of marine debris and found that microplastics are a problem in both our Great Lakes and oceans. The students consulted with fisheries expert, Brandon Schroeder (Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant Educator), and microplastics expert, Dr. Sherri Mason (Professor of Chemistry, The State University of New York at Fredonia), to verify their research. Next, the students outlined the films’ goals and began creating a storyboard. The students also crafted props, recorded audio, captured video footage while having fun and learning.
The film “Plastics 101” emerged with entertaining insights into the troubles of a throwaway culture and the effects on the Great Lakes and oceans. Students also learned about potential career options while applying classroom learning goals. Thomson said, “The video provided a perfect opportunity to develop a cross-curriculum project that focused on targets from English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.” Thomson recently was named 2017 Michigan Science Teacher Association Elementary Science Teacher of the Year.
Students also learned more about how their actions impact their community and ultimately the world. When plastics are improperly disposed, they could end up in a local stream, river, or the Great Lakes by the wind, rain, and through storm drains. Students were surprised to learn plastics absorb toxins, such as DDT, PAH and PCBs, and that these toxins can enter our food web through plastics. Since plastics don’t biodegrade, they don’t go away; they simply photodegrade into tiny pieces that can be consumed by plankton or small fish and then move up the food chain. To showcase solutions to this problem, the students highlight how to take action and protect our Great Lakes and ocean.
“Plastics 101” now will serve as an educational tool through the Northeast Michigan Earth Day Bag Project, an effort where third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders learn about the harms of single-use plastics to our Great Lakes and ocean and solutions to this growing problem. After watching a series of short films and discussing the information, students across northeast Michigan will decorate paper bags with conservation messages (e.g. Refuse to Single Use; Protect our Great Lakes), which will then be distributed to customers at local grocery stores on Earth Day, April 22, 2017.
Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension serve in providing leadership for the NEMIGLSI network, which is part of a larger, statewide network and partnership, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Established in 2007 with funding from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the GLSI supports place-based stewardship education in schools and communities across Michigan. Partnerships are invaluable in our endeavor to support stewardship of our Great Lakes and natural resources. Through the NEMIGLSI network, and applied place-based education strategies, our students may perhaps prove the most inspirational educators of all in addressing important Great Lakes issue such as marine debris.
Michigan Sea Grant to host webinar about Sustainable Small Harbors project findings and next steps
On May 8 at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT, Michigan Sea Grant will host a webinar titled, “The Sustainable Small Harbors Project: Helping coastal communities re-imagine their waterfront.”
This webinar will provide an overview of the Sustainable Small Harbors project, an initiative to boost the long-term well-being of Michigan’s coastal communities. All people involved in coastal communities, both in and outside of Michigan, are invited to participate.
The Sustainable Small Harbors project arose in 2014 when many of Michigan’s small coastal communities were struggling to cope with fluctuating water levels, declining populations, and economic instability. The project research team (consisting of Lawrence Technological University, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., Veritas Economic Consulting, LLC, and David Larkin Knight, LLC) has assessed barriers preventing small harbor communities from becoming socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.
Members of the project research team along with personnel from Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension facilitated in-depth visioning workshops in six coastal communities to help community members identify potential growth areas for their waterfronts. By May 2017, the team will publish a guidebook to help other coastal communities analyze their own waterfront assets and develop strategies to bolster their long-term economic, social, and environmental stability.
“This effort empowers communities to overcome the burdens of their historic legacies,” says Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. “The process engaged community members in constructive conversations to create a shared vision.”
The 90-minute webinar will provide an overview of the project’s history, major findings and outcomes, and future directions. Representatives from the cities of New Baltimore and Ontonagon will speak about their experiences with the project. The webinar will conclude with an open question-and-answer session.
Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association honors O’Keefe’s contributions to sport fishery.
by Cindy Hudson
Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Dr. Dan O’Keefe (right) recently received the Dr. Howard Tanner Award from the Michigan Steelheaders and Salmon Fishermen’s Association. Dr. Tanner is shown at left. Courtesy photo
The Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fisherman’s Association recently awarded Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Dr. Daniel O’Keefe with the Dr. Howard A. Tanner Award for his contributions to Michigan’s sport fishery.
“Dan O’Keefe believes education is a critical component of natural resource management and the importance of knowledge in making sound decisions has been the cornerstone of his contributions to our anadromous sport fishery,” said Dennis Eade, Michigan Steelheaders executive director.
O’Keefe, a Michigan State University Extension educator who serves seven counties along the coast of Lake Michigan, graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s of science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. He received his master’s in biology at Central Michigan University and his doctorate in Wildlife and Fisheries from Mississippi State University. He has been with Michigan Sea Grant for nine years.
O’Keefe has developed many education and outreach programs, including:
Citizen science programs such as the Salmon Ambassadors and the Great Lakes Angler Diary.
Organizes fishery workshops and brings together fisheries managers, biologists, scientists, state and federal agency personnel, charter fishing captains and sport fishers alike to consider what is occurring in the ecosystem and what will impact the sustainability of the Great Lakes fishery.
Completed study of charter and tournament fishing economic impacts and post-study evaluation that indicated results led to greater appreciation for the value of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem.
Compiled public input on controversial issues. Coordinated with Michigan DNR regarding fisheries issues in preparation for basin-wide management plans, a governor-appointed council regarding development of offshore wind energy legislation, and a Michigan House of Representatives committee regarding Asian carp and other invasive species.
“Dr. Howard Tanner is an icon in the fisheries world and I’m honored to be receiving an award named after him,” O’Keefe said. “It’s important to me that citizens receive the best available scientific information and get involved in Great Lakes fisheries management.”
Tanner served as Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division chief during the 1960s and was key in bringing about salmon stocking in the Great Lakes. He was then director of Natural Resource at MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and eventually returned to the state as MDNR director.
The Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association is the largest sport fishing association in the Great Lakes Basin and has 14 chapters throughout Michigan which protect, promote and enhance sport fishing in the Great Lakes and connecting waterways.
For nearly 50 years, Michigan Sea Grant has provided research, outreach, and education that help keep the Great Lakes great. Thousands of people had their first boating experiences and connected with the Great Lakes in our vessel-based learning programs. Beachgoers are more aware of dangerous currents and have access to safety equipment due to our efforts. Seafood supply chains are safer thanks to our seafood safety training. The targeted research we provide addresses pressing coastal problems, and our Extension educators are a trusted resource living in and working for coastal communities around the state.
The Administration’s proposal in the FY 2017 Security Supplementalwould cut the National Sea Grant College Program by $30 million. Such a reduction with five months remaining in this fiscal year would effectively terminate Michigan Sea Grant and the 32 other Sea Grant programs immediately. We ask that you contact your representative and urge them to reject the FY 2017 Security Supplemental that would cut all funding for our program immediately and to reject the FY 2018 proposal to zero out and terminate the Sea Grant program.
If you value Michigan’s coastal communities and the work Michigan Sea Grant does to support them, I hope you will consider contacting your representative to let them know. To help, here are a sample letter and email (click to download documents) that you can use to contact them, as well as searchable databases for you to locate your representatives.
Great Lakes Education Program now registering classrooms in southeast Michigan to join the fun.
by Steve Stewart
Thousands of students in southeast Michigan have participated in the Great Lakes Education Program. Registration for 2017 is now open. Photo: Steve Stewart | Michigan Sea Grant
If you are a teacher in southeast Michigan and want to introduce your students to the Great Lakes, what should you do? Participating in the Great Lakes Education Program, which begins its 27th year of classroom and vessel-based education in April, is a sure way to accomplish your goal.
If you value the effectiveness of combining classroom and out-of-classroom learning, you’ll want to be a part of this award-winning program. If you appreciate how important the Great Lakes are to all of us, and that we share a common ownership of and stewardship responsibility for the lakes, you can be sure this program will make a big impact on students.
Nearly 110,000 students and adults have learned more about the Great Lakes since 1991 by participating in the Great Lakes Education Program. Designed though a collaboration involving Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the program provides students, their teachers and adult chaperones with an unforgettable on-the-water learning experience. With locations on both Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, it is easy for schools throughout southeast Michigan to participate.
Registration is now open for the spring 2017 Great Lakes Education Program season, which runs from mid-April through mid-June. For more complete information on the program, the spring season calendar, our locations, cost, and how to register, simply go to the Great Lakes Education Program website. We look forward to having you join us in 2017 as we continue our education focusing on the Great Lakes.
Rip, structural, outlet, and channel currents continue to take the lives of many swimmers each year in the Great Lakes. Each of these types of dangerous currents have unique characteristics that pose a danger to swimmers. Learn why drownings in the Great Lakes were up 78 percent last year and what you can do about it. Many coastal communities are working together on water safety measures that will help protect swimmers using their beaches.
Join the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium for compelling presentations by and networking opportunities with experts in water safety, risk communication, lifeguarding, beach safety, and hazard mitigation. Speakers from the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, National Weather Service, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, universities, and many others will share the latest science, techniques, and technologies. Upon completion of the conference, attendees will leave with new strategies, insights, and know-how to save lives in their communities and the best ways to respond in the event of a tragedy.