The Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster, photo by Eridony.

Because the Emerald Ash Borer isn’t very photogenic, we’re taking a break from Invasive Species Week to bring you a reminder of another kind of invasion that’s about to descend on Michigan: the fabulous Grand Rapids ArtPrize! 2009 brought all kinds of incredible sights to the city, including the Nessie Project. See a bunch of them in our ArtPrize Video from 2009.

ArtPrize starts next Wednesday (September 22) and continues through October 10th. We will once again be On Location with Absolute Michigan, and we encourage you to attend and to share your photos from ArtPrize in the Absolute Michigan pool and also to the ArtPrize Promotion Group for anyone who wants to share their photos & video of ArtPrize installations and the accompanying hoopla with bloggers and online media outlets.

Be sure to check this out monstrously massive and see it and many more in Brandon’s ArtPrize slideshow!

Invasive Species in Michigan

September 13, 2010

Shell Cluster

Shell Cluster, photo by johndecember.

All week we’re going to be featuring invasive species – who they are, what they’re doing to our lakes & land and how folks are working to stop them. See the articles as we post them on Absolute MichiganMichigan in Pictures and !

I actually already blogged this photo to Pandora’s Locks: How Invasive Species got into the Great Lakes on Absolute Michigan. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how the way the shipping industry operates guarantees that invasive species will spread.

You will note that John has TWO invaders here, the zebra mussel and the Asian ladybird beetle. Check this out bigger in John’s slideshow!

must be exterminated

must be exterminated, photo by Kasey Carroll.

Kasey writes:

About ten seconds after I caught this, my fiancee’s uncle beat it repeatedly against the side of the boat. He said that it was an “intruder from outer waters and it must be exterminated because it eats all the perch eggs in Lake Eerie.” I’m sorry Peta. I didn’t do it.

See this bigger in her Things slideshow. The USGS Invasive Species Center page on the round goby says:

The round goby, Neogobius melanstomus, is a small, bottom – dwelling fish that was first found in the Great Lakes region in 1990. Originally from the Black and Caspian Sea areas of Eastern Europe, it is believed that this exotic species arrived in the ballast water of vessels coming into the Great Lakes. Since the first sighting in the St. Clair River, round gobies have spread to all of the Great Lakes and are working their way inland through the rivers and canal systems.

…Round gobies are found in all of the Great Lakes with the greatest numbers in Lake Erie, Lake St. Claire and southern Lake Michigan. Many of the areas with round goby populations are best described as infested. Once round gobies arrive they can become the dominant fish species. Round gobies prefer rocky, shallow areas, but have flourished in a variety of habitat types. Regardless of the habitat, round gobies are very aggressive fish that compete with native fishes for food and space. Anglers who fish in areas with round gobies often find that the gobies steal their bait and appear to be the only type of fish in the area.

Round gobies can eat zebra mussels in addition to fish eggs, plankton, fish, and benthic invertebrates. Because zebra mussels are filter feeders that accumulate contaminants in their body tissues, round gobies that eat zebra mussels may be consuming a high level of contaminants. When a predatory fish such as a walleye eats a round go by that has fed primarily on zebra mussels, they may be getting a much larger load of contaminants than they would from eating other types of prey fish. This could put dangerous concentrations of contaminants into sport-fish at a much faster rate.

According to the MLive, there are now an estimated 10 million pounds of gobies in Lake Michigan alone! More information at round goby on Wikipedia and from the round goby page on Protect Your Waters. How do we stop their spread? Always follow the procedure to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!

Where Two Waters Meet

Where Two Waters Meet, photo by Robby Ryke

Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the three universities that make up Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC), have released a report titled “Innovating for the Blue Economy“. The report cites nearly $300 million in awards for water-related research and outreach from 2009 to 2013 that have led to innovations from dealing with invasive species and monitoring water quality to finding ways to optimize water use in agriculture. Their news release on the report prepared by the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) says in part:

AEG’s analysis showed that Michigan ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of jobs associated with industries related to water, at 718,700.

“One in five Michigan jobs is tied to having good and plentiful water,” said AEG founder and CEO Patrick Anderson. “It is an important economic driver in Michigan, and extends to Great Lakes shipping, advanced manufacturing, agriculture and fishing, and over 80 other industry subsectors where Michigan workers are employed today.”

While most of Michigan’s water-related jobs are in water-enabled industries such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, about 138,000 are in core water products and services producing water treatment facilities and solving water quality and quantity issues.

“Water isn’t just Michigan’s defining characteristic but the foundation of life on earth,” said Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. “Our three universities make significant commitments to support water-related research and programs. These not only support Michigan’s economy and quality of life, but position the state as a knowledge wellspring for the world’s most precious natural resource.”

Read on and read the full report right here. The report is chock full of interesting facts including that those 718,700 jobs represent 21.3% of Michigan’s total employment (4th in the nation) and details many of the accomplishments of Michigan’s investment in our “Big Three” university research programs. Also note that “downstream” industries like tourism that rely on healthy water resources aren’t included in the numbers.

Robby writes that Otter Creek Beach has to be the reason why Sleeping Bear Dunes was Voted “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America. View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Michigan in Pictures has over 40 pages of water-related photos – drink deep!

Lake Michigan near Brevort, Michigan

Lake Michigan near Brevort, Michigan, photo by daveumich

I tried to find something amazing about Lake Michigan – a poem, a legend, anything – but I really couldn’t find something to match up with this stunning photo. I’ll fall back on the real & urgent need to protect the beauty of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes from the  very real threat of Asian carp.

Asian carp just suck: massive, leaping fish that seriously injure boaters and eat everything else in the lake. They would be an apocalypse for the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry, and it is estimated that just 20 fish getting in would be all it would take.

So of course, yesterday John Flesher (IMO the best environmental journalist in the Great Lakes who also happens to be my neighbor) wrote an article on Asian carp that begins:

The recent discovery of a large Asian carp near Chicago underscores the need to protect the Great Lakes from the voracious fish and other invasive species that could slip into Lake Michigan, two members of Congress said Tuesday.

“If Asian carp are not stopped before they enter the Great Lakes, they could destroy the ecosystem, as well as the boating and fishing industries, and hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat.

…John Goss said the 53-inch, 82-pound fish was caught about a month ago in Flatfoot Lake, on the Illinois-Indiana state line.

Flatfoot Lake is landlocked and surrounded by a berm that would prevent it from flooding and enabling Asian carp to escape, said Chris McCloud, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

But it’s very close to Chicago’s Lake Calumet, where commercial fishermen landed a 3-foot-long Asian carp in 2010 about six miles from Lake Michigan. Lake Calumet and Lake Michigan are connected by the Calumet River.

The latest find “is another reminder that we must find a permanent solution to protect the Great Lakes,” Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, said Tuesday.

Indeed. How about we work on that? The Great Lakes are far too beautiful to be filled with the likes of Asian carp. If you agree, please share this with others. We can do something about this threat to our lakes.

Check this photo out background bigtacular, see more in Dave’s slideshow and also check out his photography website, Marvin’s Gardens including a shot of what I’m pretty sure was his breakfast up on Brevort Lake!

Regrettably, there’s more Asian carp on Michigan in Pictures.

Mr. Brownie

Mr. Brownie, photo by heronwheels

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources page on Brown Trout, Salmo trutta says that Brown trout is something of a misnomer as many Great Lakes brown trout are mainly silver in color. Michigan Sea Grant has excellent information about Great Lakes fish, and their Brown Trout entry says that the they were first stocked in the Great Lakes in the 1880s and:

The brown trout’s scientific name translates to “trout-salmon.” The Atlantic salmon and brown trout both belong to the genus Salmo. Rainbow trout, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon belong to a different genus – Oncorhynchus.

Great Lakes brown trout typically enter tributaries to spawn during late fall. Reef spawning also has been documented in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Although naturally reproducing populations of brown trout exist in Michigan waters, most are maintained through stocking. Unlike Chinook and coho salmon, brown trout do not necessarily die after spawning and can live for up to 13 years in Lake Michigan.

Browns can tolerate warmer water than other trout species, which adds to their popularity as a gamefish in rivers that are not suitable for native brook trout. In the Great Lakes, brown trout stay near shore in waters less than 50 feet deep, which makes them an ideal gamefish for shallow bays such as Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay.

The diet of brown trout varies greatly depending on its environment and available food sources. In the Great Lakes, brown trout prey mostly on forage fish such as alewife, rainbow smelt, and round goby. In rivers, small browns eat a variety of aquatic invertebrates. Larger fish transition to a diet of small fish, large insects, and even small rodents. Big browns are notorious for their wariness and nocturnal feeding habits.

Read on for more from Michigan Sea Grant and connect with them on Facebook. For more information on how and where to catch brown trout see the DNR’s Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them and Better Fishing Waters.

Stacey caught this beauty on the Pere Marquette River near Baldwin. Check this out bigger and see more in her Pure Michigan slideshow.

More fish on Michigan in Pictures, and be sure to check out this brown trout with a happy fisherman from the 1930s courtesy Seeking Michigan!

blah blah blah about being bigger than oneself

blah blah blah about being bigger than oneself, photo by hardyc

Is it just me or has the cloning of extinct species gone too far?

Check this out big as a brachiosaur and see more in Chris’s slideshow!

More April 1 fun on Absolute Michigan today!

like an oil slick

like an oil slick, photo by 1ManWithACamera

I’d like to offer an apology of sorts for this photo. It goes like this: “I’m really, really sorry that I sometimes have to blog photos of the ugly things that threaten what’s beautiful in Michigan. I wish I didn’t have such a good reason to!”

Michigan has only the tiniest sliver of Lake Erie shoreline, so little that we sometimes forget that it is one of the lakes that define our Great Lakes State. Lake Erie served once at the canary in the coal mine for pollution of the Great Lakes, and it may once again be sounding a warning call. A recent front page of the New York Times featured scary news about algae blooms on Lake Erie:

For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.

Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually.

…Dead algae sink to the lake bed, where bacteria that decompose the algae consume most of the oxygen. In central Lake Erie, a dead zone now covers up to a third of the entire lake bottom in bad years.

“The fact that it’s bigger and longer in duration is a bad thing,” said Peter Richards, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Ohio. “Fish that like to live in cold bottom waters have to move up in the thermocline, where it’s too warm for them. They get eaten, and that tends to decrease the growth rates of a lot of the fish.”

Read on for a whole lot more including how farming practices are intersecting with invasive zebra mussels and climate change to magnify the dangers.

Larry’s photo is from Lake Huron and shows a different kind of algal bloom. I got some similar ones on Lake Michigan, and the folks at Michigan Sea Grant have a whole album of them.

See it on black, view happier shots in his Caseville & Port Austin slideshow and see more of Larry’s work on Michigan in Pictures.

More Lake Erie on Michigan in Pictures.

Judas Carp

January 31, 2013

Club Carp by docksidepress

Club Carp, photo by docksidepress

Judas test: Will carp betray their own? on the Great Lakes Echo says that University of Minnesota researchers are working to put a new tool in the arsenal of those seeking to thwart the voracious and invasive Asian carp.

The researchers are fitting common carp, or “Judas fish,” with transmitters to lead them to other, larger schools of common carp, the station reports.

“(Carp) seem to be actually exceptionally social, they really hang out together,” researcher Peter Sorensen told the station. “We have to confirm that, but it sure looks that way.”

Watch the report from CBS Minnesota to learn how researchers hope to use the same technique to locate Asian carp populations for extermination.

Check out Matt’s photo on black and see more from Matt on Michigan in Pictures.

More fish on Michigan in Pictures.

Curving Hemlock

Curving Hemlock, photo by Allison | SenecaCreekPhotography.com

Welcome to the latest in our ongoing Michigan Trees in Peril series (see below). Yesterday I came across an article on the Great Lakes Echo about an invasive pest that is making inroads in Ohio. The article notes that it’s in Michigan too, and answers my question of “What the heck is that bug?” from last fall.

The DNR page on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid page from the Michigan DNR explains:

The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand) is a small aphid-like insect that feeds on several species of hemlock (Tsuga spp.) in Asia, its homeland, and in North America since 1924. This insect is easily recognized during most of the year by the presence of a dry, white woolly substance on the young twigs. The “wool” is most abundant and conspicuous during spring. An egg mass resembles the tip of a cotton swab, although somewhat smaller. It is particularly noticeable on the underside of the young twigs.

There’s a lot more information on that page about the pest and efforts to combat it – click through for more. Wikipedia’s entry on Tsuga canadensis (Eastern Hemlock) says that:

The eastern hemlock grows well in shade and is very long lived, with the oldest recorded specimen being at least 554 years old. The tree generally reaches heights of about 31 meters (100 feet), but exceptional trees have been recorded up to 53 metres (173 feet).

The diameter of the trunk at breast height is often 1.5 metres (5 feet), but again, outstanding trees have been recorded up to 1.75 meters (6 feet). The trunk is usually straight and monopodial, but very rarely is forked. The crown is broadly conic, while the brownish bark is scaly and deeply fissured, especially with age.

Allison took this at the Twelvemile Beach Campground in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. See it on black or in her Forest and Trees slideshow. You can also purchase through her photography website

A couple other trees in peril…

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