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!

EDITOR’S NOTE: It looked for a minute that we had another Turtlegate brewing and that this might not be a Chinook but a brown trout. Read more in the comments on Facebook.

Salmon up and over the dam

Up & Over……….., photo by Julie

The Detroit Free Press reports that the salmon population is plummeting in Lake Michigan. The article begins:

They are the king of the Great Lakes sport fish, luring thousands of anglers to Michigan waters every year for a chance to try to land them — and helping fuel a multibillion-dollar fishing and boating tourism industry.

But the Chinook salmon’s numbers are plummeting in Lake Michigan due to a combination of natural forces, unnatural invasive species, and the state Department of Natural Resources’ own efforts to dial back the population and prevent a more permanent population crash as happened in Lake Huron about a decade ago.

The salmon population on Lake Michigan is down 75% from its 2012 peak, said Randy Claramunt, a DNR Great Lakes fishery biologist based in Charlevoix.

A leading cause is a reduction in alewives, a silvery fish up to 10 inches long that is the salmon’s primary prey on the Great Lakes. The alewife population has been decimated by invasive zebra and quagga mussels that have changed the nutrient dynamics of the lakes.

Read on for more at the Freep.

View Julie’s photo of a salmon jumping up into the weir at Charlevoix bigger and see more in her Wildlife slideshow.

More about Chinook salmon and more fish on Michigan in Pictures.

Round Goby

Round Goby, photo by Dave Brenner, Michigan Sea Grant

The Great Lakes Echo reports that although a study has found that invasive round goby are “one of the most successful aquatic invaders” ever in the Great Lakes, smallmouth bass appear to be feasting on gobies:

25 years after their discovery in the Great Lakes, “we’re not documenting specific harms from gobies,” Popoff said, referring to feared environmental, economic and human health concerns.

In fact, there are indications of possible benefits from their presence, he said. For example, “we are seeing amazing smallmouth bass,” as well as some “amazing walleye,” while lake trout have modified their diets from sculpin to round gobies.

One possible exception, according to Popoff, is a decline in sculpin population as documented in Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay because they compete with round gobies for space and food. However, scientists haven’t determined whether the lake’s overall sculpin population is down or whether they’ve merely moved to deeper areas with fewer round gobies.

…However, the study found the round goby is now a widely available food source for many native fish because of its “extreme abundance, tolerance to a variety of habitat conditions and relatively small size.”

In lakes Erie and Ontario, round gobies accounted for 75 percent of the smallmouth bass diet, Crane said. If all other species have maintained stable populations, that means the bass are putting less pressure on other food sources.

Nice to see the Great Lakes winning a battle – read on for lots more.

View the photo background big and see more in Michigan Sea Grant’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) slideshow.

Piping Plover

Untitled, photo by Anna Lysa

Sorry to mess up your holiday week with a bit of advocacy on the behalf of Michigan’s natural environment, but yesterday via Michigan Radio I learned of the very disturbing Senate Bill 78 that’s headed to Governor Snyder for signature or veto. The bill would forbid DNR from preserving biodiversity in forests and parks:

More than 130 scientists and the state’s environmental groups are calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a bill they call anti-science. The bill would forbid the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from protecting native wildlife and plants on the pure merits of protecting nature.

  • The bill would prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from managing state lands for biodiversity.
  • It would prohibit the agency from managing forests for restoration.
  • It would end work to eliminate invasive species.
  • It would strike from the law the finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.

Read on for more, and here’s the text of Senate Bill 78. If you’re so inclined, feel free to tell Gov. Rick Snyder what you think. I know that messages to our elected officials really do make a difference.

View Anna Lysa’s photo from July of 2012 at Ludington State Park bigger and see more in her Michigan slideshow.

PS: As I read it, piping plover would not be impacted by this as the species with just 8,000 adults is federally protected. I just picked them because they’re a recognizable species that has benefitted from extensive preservation efforts, some of them in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

Here’s the piping plover and more of Michigan’s endangered plants and animals on Michigan in Pictures.

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!


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