In thinking ahead to swimming season, learning about potential hazards before hitting the water can save your life. Dangerous currents occur throughout the Great Lakes and are very common along the shore of Lake Michigan. The currents do not pull a person under the water, but can pull them away from the shore.
Have you ever been swimming in one of the Great Lakes and suddenly realized that your towel and shoes were way up the beach? It’s likely that the gentle pull of a current gradually influenced you to move while swimming. Many currents are like this — nothing to worry about.
However, currents that are stronger, and therefore more dangerous, are fairly common in the Great Lakes. As currents strengthen, they can turn from inconvenient to dangerous and even deadly. A current is technically considered “dangerous” when it reaches 2 mph or faster; however, there are some currents, such as those found near structures, that can be dangerous at slower speeds.
Michigan Sea Grant’s Elizabeth LaPorte and Ron Kinnunen are leading a project focused on reducing the risk of drowning from dangerous currents. Michigan Sea Grant received financial support from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Coastal Zone Management Program to work on the issue. This project is expanding Sea Grant’s 20-year focus on public outreach efforts to help reduce dangerous current-related fatalities.
Through this new project, Michigan Sea Grant is responding to the needs of state agencies, community leaders and legislators by increasing collaboration, improving communication and developing new public outreach tools to address dangerous currents.
Tracking the Salmon with Help from Anglers
Since the 1960s, when salmon were first stocked in Lake Michigan, the lake and its residents have gone through dramatic changes. One significant change is that salmon — Chinook in particular — are now reproducing naturally in clear, cold northern Michigan streams. How do we know that?
Volunteers with Michigan Sea Grant’s Salmon Ambassadors program are helping provide answers. Last year was the first year for the program, and seven Grand Haven anglers provided length measurements and fin clip data for 736 Chinook salmon caught over the course of the season. The story the data told was surprising.
Is That a Stocked Salmon?
Determining the origin of a Chinook from Lake Michigan has also gotten easier this year thanks to the Great Lakes mass-marking project. Traditionally, fisheries research projects gather data in several ways. That could mean tagging a fish by adding a coded wire tag or clipping a fin. However, because it is expensive, usually only a proportion of all stocked fish would get marked. When it comes to salmon tagging, this year is different. As a result of the mass-marking project, nearly all stocked Chinook salmon in Lake Michigan will have a clipped fin in 2014.
In 24 years, Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) has introduced more than 97,000 K-12 students, teachers and adult chaperones to the unique features of the Great Lakes through a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience. The program is designed to help students and adults understand the importance of the Great Lakes, the science behind the management and each person’s role in protecting our vital freshwater resources.
The program kicks off its 2014 season this April, and classes can still register for both the Lake St. Clair and lower Detroit River locations.
To register a class or obtain more information, visit the GLEP website
Exploring STEM in Northeast Michigan
Even the most blustery of winter snowstorms could not deter the collaborative spirit and partnerships fostered through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) network. More than 50 educators and community partners convened in February – despite the snow – for the ninth annual NE MI GLSI Regional Networking meeting held in Alpena.
The meeting brought together 19 educators and 33 community partners representing more than 20 community organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage networking, sharing and discussing the variety of needs, opportunities and common interests in Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship education in northeast Michigan.
The Taste of Whitefish
What kind of fish do people prefer to eat? How does the Great Lakes whitefish fare against other popular food fish?
With the increase of imported aquaculture products, the Great Lakes commercial lake whitefish industry was in need of information on how their product compares to farmed Atlantic salmon, catfish and tilapia — major food fish in the retail market. The testing would provide information that will help better position Great Lakes lake whitefish in the market place.
To answer these questions, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension conducted a sensory analysis study to determine consumer preferences. For all the tests, one-half-ounce samples were prepared from the loin section of fish fillets and were then cooked in a microwave with no additional seasoning (sound delicious?). More than 100 panelists participated. Where did Great Lakes whitefish rank?
Spring Great Lakes Fishery Workshops
This spring, Michigan Sea Grant, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, USGS Great Lakes Science Center and local fishery and water quality organizations, will host several fisheries workshops. There are five workshops coming up along the east side of the state.
Who should attend and what will they get out of it?
- Recreational anglers have the opportunity to become better-educated anglers – learning about feeding trends of predator fish may help decide where to fish or what lures to use.
- Fishery businesses owners and operators — sportfishing charters, commercial fishing and bait shops — gain insights relating to regional fisheries resources. The information may prove useful in helping business owners adapt business strategies, from fishing practices to business marketing and information that might be passed along to the customers.
- In trade for the informational updates they share, governmental research and management agencies have an opportunity to gain valuable insights and input from anglers and citizen stakeholders on management topics.
The following workshops have been scheduled for Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.
Lake Huron Workshops
When: 6-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 9
Where: Charles A. Hammond American Legion Hall, 1026 6th Street
Port Huron, Michigan 48060
When: 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 22
Where: NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, 500 W. Fletcher Street
Alpena, Michigan 49707
When: 6-9 p.m., Wednesday, April 23
Where: Les Cheneaux Sportsman’s Club, M-134
Cedarville, Michigan 49719
To register for any of the Lake Huron sessions, or for more information, contact Val Golding at (989) 354-9870 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake St. Clair Workshop
When: 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 15
Where: VerKuilen Building Auditorium – Entrance C
21885 Dunham Road
Clinton Township, Michigan 48036
To register, contact Maureen Prisbe at (586) 469-6440 or email@example.com
For program questions, contact Justin Selden (586) 469-7139 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lake Erie Workshop
When: 7-9 p.m., Thursday, April 17
Where: Monroe City Hall, Council Chambers
120 E. First Street
Monroe, Michigan 48161
To register or to get more information, contact: Mary Bohling at email@example.com
New Extension Program Coordinator Joins MSG
Heather Triezenberg has been named the new Michigan Sea Grant Extension Program Coordinator. She takes over the position following the retirement of Chuck Pistis. As extension specialist and program coordinator, Triezenberg will coordinate the statewide Sea Grant Extension Program in collaboration with the Michigan State University Extension Greening Michigan Institute.
Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators work with stakeholders on critical Great Lakes issues such as resilient communities and economies, healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture and environmental literacy.
“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to join Michigan Sea Grant as extension specialist and program coordinator,” Triezenberg said. “I look forward to working with Michigan Sea Grant’s staff members and stakeholders to address critical issues facing the Great Lakes and its coastal communities.”