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

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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!

‘Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle’ is a must-see art exhibit for Great Lakes lovers

Paintings reveal the hidden life beneath the beautiful inland seas.

If you love the waters and creatures of the Great Lakes, you won’t want to miss the chance to see the Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. But don’t delay — the magnificent art exhibit is nearing the end of its three-month run and will only be in town through April 29, 2018. After that Michiganders will have to wait until 2020 for the paintings to return to the state.

The art museum commissioned the artist to research and create five mural-sized paintings depicting the past, present, and future of the Great Lakes. Over the course of four years, Rockman traveled the Great Lakes region, met with scientists and other experts, and created this special display. Included in the exhibit are murals, watercolors, and field drawings.

Detail of a Lake Trout from Forces of Change panel

Rockman’s five mural-sized paintings are filled with information and detail. His paintings have been described as “visual essays” and indeed tell a story which invokes wonder, appreciation, and also apprehension for the future of these critical waters. It’s an important story for all of us to learn and know.

A critical resource

The Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, and their connecting channels — form the largest surface fresh water system on earth. Environmental stewardship, sustainable economic development, and responsible use of the Great Lakes are crucial components of keeping the lakes and the region vibrant. Rockman’s exhibit challenges viewers to remember how actions and decisions often have ripple effects on the lakes. Several of the large panels can be “read” from left to right, telling the evolutionary story and showing scientific and cultural timelines. Reading these paintings, one can’t help but wonder what’s next for these important waters and be challenged to be a better steward of them for future generations.

For the museum visitor, drawing keys help tell the story and identify each element contained in the large panels. The museum has also created a Great Lakes bingo game to capture the imagination of children and adults, but also impart facts and knowledge. Playing the game encourages real study of the individual elements of the panels.

watercolor of wood duck with sand embelishments

The watercolors and field study drawings are magnificent as well. In the field studies, Rockman has included sand, dirt, and other elements he collected during his travels around the region. For example, his Common Snapping Turtle includes sand from Pictured Rocks, and his rendering of a wood duck includes sand from the Cuyahoga River.

Book a bonus you won’t want to miss

To add to the experience of viewing Rockman’s paintings, be sure to pick up a copy of the exhibition catalogue, which was published by the art museum in association with Michigan State University Press. The book’s essays, descriptions, and beautiful photographs make it a perfect way to enhance — and remember — the experience of standing in front of one of Rockman’s beautiful paintings. The catalogue was written by Dana Friis-Hansen, director of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, with contributions by Jeff Alexander and Thyrza Nichols Goodeve. One suggestion would be to order and read the book first, then see the exhibit. At the very least, grab one at the museum store to study at leisure. The book also includes the detailed keys that explain each element of the large panels.

After leaving Grand Rapids, the exhibit will tour the Great Lakes region. The tour schedule will wrap up back in Michigan in 2020 with its visit to the Flint Institute of Arts. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s website at www.artmuseumgr.org or contact Visitor Services at (616) 831-1000 or info@artmuseumgr.org.

Exhibition Touring Schedule:

Town Hall on Aquatic Invasive Species

Event Date: 4/26/2018

University of Toledo/NOAA Research Team Host Town Hall on invasive species prevention in the Great Lakes

The public is invited to a town hall meeting 8 p.m. Thursday, April 26 at the WGTE studio, 1270 S. Detroit Ave. in Toledo, OH. 

The town-hall panel of experts includes representatives from the Toledo Zoo, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maumee Bait and Tackle and Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. 

Rochelle Sturtevant, Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS) Program Manager is a panelist.

Four years of fishing data from Salmon Ambassadors show trends for wild, stocked salmon catch

New report details results from information volunteer anglers provide.

Four years of fishing data from Salmon Ambassadors show trends for wild, stocked salmon catch.

Anglers are keen observers of the aquatic environment. The Salmon Ambassadors program provides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron anglers with a way to share their observations on wild and stocked salmon. Thanks to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Mass Marking Program, Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have been marked with an adipose clip since 2011. This means that anglers can identify stocked fish by looking for a clipped adipose fin. The contribution of wild fish to the catch (% Wild) can then be calculated.

Volunteers with the Salmon Ambassadors program measured each and every Chinook salmon caught during the course of the fishing season and checked for fin clips. At the end of each season, volunteers provided their data to Michigan Sea Grant along with answering a few questions about their season. Since 2014, 81 volunteers have provided a complete data set for at least one season.

A new fact sheet details results from the past four years. Here are a few highlights:

  • Volunteers provided useful data on 8,474 Chinook salmon.
  • Fishing satisfaction has been on the rise since 2015.
  • % Wild was consistently higher in Michigan than in Wisconsin.
  • % Wild increased each month from May to September in northern Michigan ports on Lake Michigan due to the return of wild fish to natal streams.
  • In southern Wisconsin and northern Lake Huron, % Wild was lowest in September due to the return of mature stocked fish to stocking sites.
  • Southern Michigan ports did not seem to benefit from a large run of mature stocked fish in September, as we had originally expected.

In 2013, a 46 percent reduction in Lake Michigan stocking and a corresponding 84 percent drop in natural reproduction (according to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) made for a very weak year-class. This translated into tough fishing in 2015 and 2016, when these fish would have been two and three years old, respectively. Salmon Ambassadors saw big changes in the size structure of their catches as a result. Although anglers felt the pain of tough salmon fishing, the reduction in predation was important for improving predator-prey balance and preventing the collapse of the alewife population.

The Salmon Ambassadors program is a Michigan Sea Grant initiative developed in coordination with Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana Departments of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This program would not be possible without the effort of dedicated volunteers from organizations including Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen’s Association and Michigan Charter Boat Association. Special thanks go out to Detroit Area Steelheaders, who provided generous donations to support this program.

2018 Fishery Workshops

Event Date: 4/10/2018
End Date: 5/3/2018

Michigan Sea Grant, in partnership with fisheries agencies and stakeholder organizations, hosts public information workshops annually. The workshops focus on current research and information related to the regional status of Great Lakes fisheries. These workshops are open to the public and provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals and other interested stakeholders. 

2018 Workshops

  • Standish
    Tuesday, April 10, 6–9 p.m.
  • Harrison Charter Township
    Thursday, April 12, 6–8:30 p.m.
  • Ubly/Bad Axe
    Thursday, April 19, 6–9 p.m.
  • South Haven
    Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:00-9:20 p.m.
  • Rogers City
    Tuesday, April 24, 6–9 p.m.
  • Houghton
    Monday, April 30, 6–9 p.m.
  • Cedarville
    Thursday, May 3, 6–9 p.m.

Learn about Lake Superior’s rising water levels at April presentations

Event Date: 4/16/2018
End Date: 4/17/2018

Lake Superior may set record high in 2018; Sea Grant, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss possible levels, impacts.

The National Park’s Au Sable Dunes is an area being impacted from erosion due to near record high Lake Superior water levels. In 2017 a popular overlook and trail was temporarily shut down due to severe erosion. Photo: Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

The National Park’s Au Sable Dunes is an area being impacted from erosion due to near record high Lake Superior water levels. In 2017 a popular overlook and trail was temporarily shut down due to severe erosion. Photo: Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Superior water levels are high—really high. Current levels are within just a few inches of the all-time monthly high for March, which was set back in 1986. And predictions for May, June and July set a significant probability levels could reach or even exceed the all-time monthly high for those months. The Great Lakes in general had a significant period of lake water levels being well below average in the mid-1990s until about 5 years ago. Now water levels are higher than many people have seen in their lifetime.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been tracking lake levels with scientifically valid data for more than 100 years. The USACE predicts lake level changes with a “6-month probability” forecast, which is updated every month.

What will be the impact of higher water levels?

In partnership with Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District Office will discuss the changing Lake Superior water levels. The presentations are free and open to all. Coastal home and property owners, city and township government officials, boaters and marina owners, management agencies, regional planners, and anyone who enjoys recreating along the coast of Lake Superior will find the topics particularly relevant.

Dr. Lauren Fry, who leads the water level forecasting mission at the Detroit District Office of Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology, will discuss what to expect in terms of lake levels over the next few months and the science that goes into determining Great Lake Water levels.

Michigan Sea Grant will provide materials and handouts to help understand what the impact might be on Lake Superior coastlines and how to prepare for the fact that lake levels change over time. A question and answer time will follow the presentations allowing the public to gain valuable insight on how changing water levels may affect them.

Meetings planned in Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie

  • April 16, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Marquette Charter Township Community Room, 1000 Commerce Drive, Marquette, MI 49855. Free parking on site.
  • April 17,6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Lake Superior State University, Crawford Hall Room 205, 906 Ryan Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783. Free parking in LSSU Library Lot, lot J.

To learn more about the US Army Corps of Engineers lake level forecasting here, and gain additional insight from MSU Extension on the current situation with Lake Superior Water levels here.