November 2016

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Happy anniversary, Sea Grant!

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson put pen to paper and authorized the National Sea Grant College and Program Act. Fifty years later, with 33 programs operating in every coastal and Great Lakes state — plus Puerto Rico and Guam — Sea Grant celebrated its golden anniversary on October 15, 2016. Click here to read more about Sea Grant’s legacy or here for more about the 50th anniversary celebration.

The week before that auspicious day, several hundred Sea Grant employees from around the nation — and even some international partners — gathered in Newport, Rhode Island, for the biannual Sea Grant Week meeting. Scientists, engineers, educators, and communicators from across the Sea Grant network reconnected with colleagues, shared projects and stories, and imagined what the organization’s next half-century might look like.

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Sea Grant Week attendees pose with a celebratory banner. Photo: Rhode Island Sea Grant

After Sea Grant Week, some members of the Michigan Sea Grant staff reflected on their experiences in Newport:

Mark Breederland, Michigan State University Extension educator based in Traverse City: “A takeaway for me was a quote from one of the lunch plenary speakers: Bill Hooke, from the American Meteorological Society. He said, ‘Sea Grant builds bridges of trust strong enough to hold the weight of truth.’”

Sea Grant communicators aboard the schooner Aurora. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Sea Grant communicators aboard the schooner Aurora. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Heather Triezenberg, Extension specialist and program coordinator: “My favorite workshop was on learning from the Sea Grant network’s expertise related to disaster response. The biggest piece of advice: be prepared, have a plan, and know who to contact in case of a disaster. In most cases, one of the first calls I plan to make is to my Sea Grant colleagues from other parts of the country.”

Jim Diana, director: “I enjoyed meeting up with a number of colleagues from Sea Grant, sharing stories about our successes (and failures), and getting to know them better personally. I also enjoyed hearing about and celebrating the great things done by all of the Sea Grant network.”

Catherine Riseng, research program manager: “I had several good meetings with research coordinators from other Great Lakes programs. We discussed developing a regional research strategy for co-funded research projects addressing big, complex issues for the Great Lakes. This is an exciting opportunity!”

Cindy Hudson, Extension program communications manager: “Sea Grant Week was a time to appreciate the hard work that Sea Grant programs across the country are doing each day. I’m proud to be part of an organization that is betting on the future by engaging students and teachers in finding solutions to many environmental challenges.”

Elyse Larsen, fiscal officer: “I went on a field trip by boat to the Block Island Wind Farm [the nation’s first off-shore wind farm]. It was amazing to see the wind turbines up close and see how gigantic they were. It makes me wonder what it might look like to have similar wind farms on the Great Lakes.”

Elliot Nelson, Extension educator based in Sault Ste. Marie: “Not only did I learn that each state’s Sea Grant program is uniquely structured to fit that state’s needs, I also learned that many other states deal with similar issues to Michigan. From birding trails in North Carolina to aquaculture in Maine, there were lessons learned and strategies shared that will benefit all of us in the long run.”

A view of Newport harbor. Photo: Rhode Island Sea Grant

A view of Newport harbor. Photo: Rhode Island Sea Grant

Rhett Register, communications program leader: “A stand-out event was a breakfast discussion with a member of the Sea Grant Advisory Board who is a former Michigan senator. Our conversation encouraged me to redouble our efforts to reach out to legislators about the work Michigan Sea Grant does and the assistance we can provide on many of the issues that affect our state’s coastal ecosystems and communities.”

Geneva Langeland, communications editor: “Being in a room with hundreds of other Sea Grant employees brought home just how extensive, effective, and respected this organization is. I’m honored to play my part in shaping the next fifty years of Sea Grant’s mission.”

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Celebrating Sea Grant’s 50th anniversary

In 2016, the National Sea Grant College Program celebrates 50 years of putting science to work for America’s coastal communities. Our Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators live and work in coastal communities around Michigan. We celebrate their hard work and take this opportunity to introduce each of them during this anniversary year. See previous and upcoming issues of Upwellings for more educator profiles.

sea-grant-50-justin-seldenJustin Selden brings the classroom to the water

Through programs such as Summer Discovery Cruises and the Great Lakes Education Program, Justin Selden helps thousands of students learn about the Great Lakes. Read more about Justin’s work in southeast Michigan.

sea-grant-50-heather-tHeather Triezenberg knows how to ask the right questions

Growing up on a Michigan farm, Heather had a lot of questions about the environment, community, and agriculture. Read more about how this shaped her career.

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New from Michigan Sea Grant: Freshwater Feasts

Wonder what to cook for dinner tonight? Itching to try a new seafood restaurant? Curious about how to properly grill a fish?

Look no further…Michigan Sea Grant is proud to announce its newest blog: Freshwater Feasts! This cooking blog will showcase recipes made from delicious freshwater fish and other native Great Lakes species. It will also feature seafood restaurants, preparation tips, Sea Grant staff favorites, and links to other cooking resources for new and experienced chefs alike.

Do you have a favorite Great Lakes seafood recipe? Is there a local seafood restaurant you think we should tell the world about? Let us know! Get in touch through the Freshwater Feasts contact form or email us at msgpubs@umich.edu. Bon appétit!

Freshwater Feasts will feature some recipes from Michigan Sea Grant’s cookbook, Wild Caught and Close to Home: Selecting and Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish, now 30 percent off in the Michigan Sea Grant bookstore if you use the promo code FEASTS!

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And the winner is…

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Representatives from Michigan State University Extension and the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative at the awards ceremony. Photo: MSU Extension

Key Partner Award — Great Lakes Fishery Trust’s Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative

Partnerships are key to expanding the reach, impact, and ownership of many of Michigan Sea Grant’s programs. These partnerships help further Michigan Sea Grant’s mission of enhancing healthy and sustainable use of Great Lakes resources, benefiting the environment, quality of life, and the Michigan, Great Lakes, and national economies.

One of Michigan Sea Grant’s partners, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust’s Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI), was recently recognized by Michigan State University Extension and honored with a Key Partner Award. The Great Lakes Fishery Trust, led by GLSI team members Mary Whitmore, Lisa Marckini-Polk, and Julie Metty Bennett, has invested financially while working alongside Michigan Sea Grant and many other partners to foster high-quality, place-based education for youth in grades K-12. The school-community partnerships supported through these investments engage youth in hands-on and applied learning, promote understanding of critical Great Lakes and natural resources issues and stewardship, and connect youth as valued partners and leaders in accomplishing community development goals.

Michigan Sea Grant has appreciated the dedication and assistance of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust’s GLSI team. Thank you for being an excellent Key Partner!

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Members of Michigan State University Extension staff with honoree Norma Matteson (center). Photo: MSU Extension

Meritorious Service Award – Norma Matteson

For nearly 30 years, support staffer Norma Matteson has kept Upper Peninsula Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Ron Kinnunen’s office organized and efficient. Ron would be the first to say that the two of them are a great team, but it is Norma who keeps his work life running smoothly. “She’s always 10 steps ahead,” Ron says. Through her actions and hard work, Norma has made a difference in the lives of the people of her district, the U.P., and all of Michigan. Norma was recently recognized by Michigan State University Extension with a Meritorious Service Award for her work. Michigan Sea Grant appreciates the consistent and excellent service Norma has provided for so many years. Congratulations, Norma!

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HABs on the horizon

Part 3: New risks, new tools

Lake Erie algal blooms, August 2011

Lake Erie algal blooms, August 2011

Lake Erie’s algal issues are still on the rise. Thankfully, new monitoring and management tools are on the way. Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.

This year’s dry spring and summer brought mixed blessings: with less rain to wash phosphorus and nitrogen off the land, the 2016 Lake Erie algal bloom remained relatively small.

However, researchers warn against celebrating this temporary reprieve. Given shifts in land use, climate conditions, and ecological communities, Lake Erie’s algal blooms seem here to stay. But even as new threats loom on the horizon, the management community is hard at work developing new tools and strategies for ensuring Lake Erie’s future.

Rising threats

Lake Erie faces an uncertain set of climate and ecological conditions in the coming decades. According to current research and estimates, algal blooms will likely be affected in the following ways:

  • Invasive zebra and quagga mussels will continue to redirect the flow of nutrients through the food web and provide favorable conditions for bloom-producing cyanobacteria.
  • Rising surface water temperatures could open the door for earlier blooms across a wider swath of the lake.
  • Increased carbon dioxide and nitrogen levels in the water could strengthen toxins produced by the blooming algae.
  • More intense, turbulent storms might increase the amount of phosphorus running off into the lake and stir sediment-bound nutrients back into the water column.

Rising opportunities

But these threats are not the end of the story. Researchers are developing new and better tools for understanding, predicting, and preventing harmful algal blooms:

  • Algal toxin levels at the main water intake for the city of Toledo, Ohio, are now seasonally monitored by a new robotic gadget. Called a “lab-in-a-can,” the underwater Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) gathers water samples, runs tests, and sends data back to an on-shore lab nearly instantaneously and with little to no human involvement.
  • A team from the University of Toledo is using plastic membranes to remove algal toxins from tap water, a technology that could be easily adapted for in-home use, such as water pitcher filters and under-sink systems.
  • In early 2016, the U.S. and Canadian governments approved a revision to the nutrient reduction goals outlined in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. To reach the new target, the two nations will aim for a 40 percent reduction in the total amount of phosphorus entering Lake Erie. The phosphorus reduction targets were based on a collaborative modeling effort by researchers at the University of Michigan Water Center, NOAA, Heidelberg University, and several other institutions.
  • Researchers are learning more about how Lake Erie’s algal blooms function. They are investigating how nitrogen levels affect the strength of algal toxins in a bloom, comparing the amounts of phosphorus entering Lake Erie through different rivers, and generating three-dimensional models of the lake’s currents.
  • Initiatives such as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program are helping farmers strategically apply fertilizer to maximize yields without unnecessary fertilizer runoff. Other programs encourage farmers to plant vegetation along stream banks, plant winter cover crops, and rotate crop plantings to encourage natural nutrient retention.

While Lake Erie’s blooms may be a permanent fixture for the foreseeable future, there is still hope that swift action and forward thinking can ultimately make Lake Erie a stronger and healthier part of the Great Lakes region.

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Crayfishes of Michigan

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Explore the wild world of freshwater crayfish! New to the Michigan Sea Grant bookstore, this poster showcases 10 types of native and invasive crayfish commonly found in Michigan’s rivers, lakes, and streams. Full-color images and detailed descriptions help make identification a breeze.

Visit the bookstore for more details. 

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Sustainable Small Harbors team visits northern Michigan

Left: The community discusses waterfront issues during the St. Ignace public meeting in October. Right: Rogers City Marina.

Left: The community discusses waterfront issues during the St. Ignace public meeting in October. Right: Rogers City Marina. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The Michigan Sea Grant Sustainable Small Harbors project reached two new communities this fall. In October, the Sustainable Small Harbors team visited St. Ignace and Rogers City, leading both communities in discussions about ways to strengthen their waterfront assets.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project supports towns and cities that face barriers to financial, social, and environmental sustainability for their public harbors and waterfront areas. The project is led by Don Carpenter of Lawrence Technological University, with funding support from Michigan Sea Grant and a variety of state and local agencies.

“St. Ignace and Rogers City served as proof-of-concept case studies for the project, allowing city staff and volunteers a sneak peek at the Sustainable Small Harbors Tools and Tactics Guidebook, a resource our team is developing to assist communities with harbor-specific planning,” says Amy Samples, Michigan Sea Grant coastal community specialist. “Our project team and state agency partners facilitated community conversations about the waterfront and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know more about these communities and their concerns and aspirations for the future.”

The project team has worked with six case study communities to date: New Baltimore, Pentwater, AuGres, Ontonagon, St. Ignace, and Rogers City. Each community has benefited from an in-depth facilitated visioning process — typically valued in the tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost.

During the visioning process, participants are invited to catalog their community’s perceived strengths and weaknesses. Then, the project team walks them through an in-depth brainstorming process that results in potential recommendations for strengthening the financial, social, and environmental well-being of public marinas, piers, retail space, public access, and other waterfront features.

For more information, see: http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/smallharborsustainability

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Fellowship applications now open!

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Applications are now open for five fellowships with Michigan Sea Grant or a partner organization. These paid fellowships run from one to two years and are designed for graduate students or recent graduates with a strong interest in marine and Great Lakes issues. Applicants from a wide range of academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Online applications are due in January and February. For deadlines and specific information about each fellowship offered, visit our fellowship page.

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Save the date

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The 60thAnnual Conference of the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) will be held in Detroit on May 15-19, 2017. A great program is in store with four days of scientific sessions and speakers focusing on the theme, From Cities to Farms: Shaping Great Lakes Ecosystems. For information about sponsorships, registration, and the venue, see the conference website.

The Michigan Seafood Summit highlights aquaculture, commercial fisheries, and local seafood in Michigan. The 2017 Summit will be held on May 16, 2017, in conjunction with the annual IAGLR conference in Detroit. See the event website for more information.

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From Extension

Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators write informative articles on a variety of subjects – from the latest on invasive species to online tools available to help anglers increase their catch. Below are a few of the most recent articles.

Wait – that’s NOT a seagull?

By Brandon Schroeder and Elliot Nelson

Common Tern. Photo: Jerry Jourdan

Common Tern. Photo: Jerry Jourdan

As it turns out, there’s no such thing as a “seagull.” Learn the true identities of common beach visitors.

Doing this one thing will improve the quality of sport-caught fish

By Ron Kinnunen

Lake whitefish on ice. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Lake whitefish on ice. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Here’s why fish should be iced down immediately – even in cool weather.

Innovation, excitement to begin at Boardman River system in Traverse City

By Mark Breederland

Boardman River, Traverse City, Mich. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Boardman River in Traverse City. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

A 10-year experiment will create and evaluate state-of-the-art ways to block invasive species while allowing others to migrate freely up the Boardman River.

What will the Lake Michigan salmon stocking cut mean for Michigan anglers?

By Dan O’Keefe

Charter fishing. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The charter fishing community has pushed back against state stocking cuts. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Public reaction to reductions in the number of Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Michigan has been mixed, but the science paints a clearer picture.