The future of Great Lakes is slipping through our hands…

Silver Carp in hand, photo by Dan O’Keefe, Michigan Sea Grant

The Herald-Palladium reports that an Asian carp has been found just 9 miles from Lake Michigan:

…the news is a reminder that the Trump administration needs to take the problem seriously, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton said Friday. The St. Joseph Republican on Friday called on the president to release a bottled-up blueprint for tackling the problem.
“The time to act is now. I am calling on the Trump administration to immediately release the Brandon Road Study so that we can have a full grasp of our options to stop this destructive force,” he stated in a news release. “Asian Carp have the potential to decimate the Great Lakes we all love and depend on.

“It is absolutely imperative we step up our efforts to further protect our lakes. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle here in the House and the Senate to take action to stop Asian Carp from entering our waterways.”

Earlier this week, Upton signed on as a co-sponsor of the Stop Asian Carp Now Act. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would compel the Trump administration to release the Brandon Road Study within seven days of the bill’s enactment. The Brandon Road study will provide important guidance on how best to prevent Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes. The entire Michigan Congressional Delegation supports of this legislation.

The live Asian carp has been discovered in a Chicago waterway – well beyond an electric barrier network designed to prevent the invasive fish that have infested the Mississippi River system from reaching the Great Lakes, officials said Friday.

I would encourage you to read on for more, and you can also see the whole text of the Stop Asian Carp Act (HR 892). I would note that this bill was originally introduced in 2011, so maybe make a couple of calls to your representatives.

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

Doing nothing about Asian carp probably isn’t going to work

Salmon Fishing on the Sable River Outlet

Salmon Fishing on the Sable River Outlet, Ludington Michigan, photo by Craig Sterken

Traverse City based AP Environmental Writer John Flesher is (for my money) one of the best reporting on Great Lakes issues. His latest piece Effort to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes appears stymied begins:

When scientists discovered six years ago that aggressive Asian carp had made their way up the Mississippi River’s tributaries toward the Chicago area, the Obama administration and alarmed state officials pledged swift action to head off an invasion they feared could devastate fishing and boating on the vital Great Lakes.

Since then, federal agencies have spent more than $300 million on stopgap measures, including placing electric barriers on one likely route, a shipping canal that leads to Lake Michigan. But as the carp get closer_some are within 80 miles of the lake— the quest for a surefire deterrent seems to be coming up empty.

An advisory panel that has debated solutions for several years is scheduled to hold what may be its final meeting Thursday, with no sign of a consensus plan, several members said in interviews.

Even if talks continue, chances are growing that the carp will arrive before anything conclusive is done to stop them. At their recent pace, the first young carp could reach Lake Michigan within two years, although a number of obstacles could slow them considerably.

“It’s one of the things that keep me up at night,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat whose state borders four of the five Great Lakes. “Asian carp could devastate our Great Lakes and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on them.”

…Environmental groups and the region’s fishing and boating industries, which generate $23 billion annually on the lakes, are most worried about two varieties of Asian carp: bighead and silver, which weigh dozens of pounds and gorge on the same tiny plant and animal life that feeds the lakes’ other fish. Scientists are still measuring their impact in rivers, but under worst-case scenarios, the large carp could leave popular sport fish to go hungry and suffer population drop-offs. Asian carp are edible but bony, and most Great Lakes fish connoisseurs regard them as a poor substitute for the walleye and whitefish.

Additionally, silver carp are notorious for springing from the water when startled, sometimes ramming boaters with bone-cracking force — a hazard that some fear could damage the Great Lakes’ tourism industry.

Read on for much more, and be sure to follow John on Twitter for more of the story. And please, make it clear to every elected official you interact with how important the health of the Great Lakes is to Michigan!

View Craig’s photo bigger, see lots more Great Lakes goodness in his slideshow and view & purchase photos from him on his website.(this one is in the Ludington collection)

More about the threat of Asian carp on Michigan in Pictures.

 

 

Smallmouth bass eating round gobys

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.

Tuesday Tweet: Great Lakes Ice at 85%

NOAA Ice Coverage

Great Lakes Ice Coverage on Feb 23, 2015, photo by NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

In Great Lakes Total Ice Cover Nears 85% NOAA reports:

The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory is showing total ice cover of 84.4% as of February 22, 2015, well above the long term average and closing in on last year’s mark of 92.5% coverage on March 6, 2014. In this image, Lake Erie is a vast white plain, joining Lake Huron and Lake Superior with coverages above 90% and only small areas of open water. This image was taken by the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument around 1803Z on February 23, 2015.

Click through to see it big as the Great Lakes and see more photos of the Great Lakes from high above if you click the “Great Lakes” keyword.

PS: Follow @NOAA@NOAA_GLERL & @NOAASatellites on Twitter for lots more great images!

Reflection

Reflection by Bill VanderMolen

Reflection, photo by Bill VanderMolen

Bill took this photo in the Lake Erie Metropark (aka Brownstown Park). View his photo bigger and see more in his Birds slideshow.

More about Great Egrets on Michigan in Pictures.

Lake Effect Snow Season in Michigan

Lake Effect 4794-09

Lake Effect 4794-09, photo by StacyN – MichiganMoments

Many in Michigan are waking up to frigid temps, high wind and snow – the perfect conditions for lake effect snow. Meteorologist Robert J. Ruhf has an excellent article on Lake-Effect Precipitation in Michigan that explains lake effect snow and rain are common in Michigan, especially in late fall and early winter as cold polar air moves across the warmer Great Lakes. 

The unfrozen waters are relatively warm when compared with the temperature of the wintertime air mass. Therefore, the temperature of the air that comes into contact with the water increases. The warmed air expands and become less dense, which causes it to rise. This is an “unstable” situation. As the air rises, the temperature decreases until it reaches the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated.. Ice crystals or water droplets will then begin to collect until the force of gravity pulls them down. The result is “lake-effect” precipitation. When the cP air mass is very cold, as is often the case between December and February, the precipitation falls as snow. During late autumn, however, the polar air mass may be warm enough for the precipitation to fall in the form of rain.

“Lake-effect” precipitation can cause substantial intensification of snowfall amounts in very narrow bands, often referred to as “snow belts,” along the leeward (downwind) shores of the Great Lakes. The prevailing wind direction in the Great Lakes region is westerly; therefore, most “lake-effect” precipitation events occur to the east of the lakes.

…An interesting feature of “lake-effect” is that the heaviest bands of snow do not usually occur along the immediate shoreline, but tend to fall several miles inland. Snowfall accumulations are enhanced inland because the air experiences more uplift when it is forced over hills and higher terrain. 

Read on to learn lots more about lake effect snow in Michigan including four narrow bands  – Keweenaw Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, the Thumb and the southwest Lower Peninsula – where geographic features and the shape of the shoreline contribute to more intense snowfall. Hang on to your hats – winter is here!

Stacy took this photo of Lake Michigan from the North Muskegon shoreline in January of 2009. See it bigger and see more in her awesome Michigan BLUE Winter 2012 slideshow.

Need a winter background?

We have met the enemy and they are ours: The Battle of Lake Erie

Flagship Niagara

Flagship Niagara, photo by Trish P. – K1000 Gal

“We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.”
~Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

September 10, 2013 is the Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, a critical battle that helped turn the tide of the War of 1812. The Flagship Niagara page on the Battle of Lake Erie relates:

On September 10, 1813, nine small ships – six of them, including Niagara, constructed at Erie – defeated a British squadron of six vessels in the Battle of Lake Erie. A pivotal event in the War of 1812, it led to regaining Detroit, lost at the war’s outset, and lifted the nation’s morale.

The U.S. Brig Niagara is a two-masted, square-rigged sailing vessel. In 1813, she had a crew of 155 men and boys who manned her sails, 18 carronades and two long guns. The crew was organized into two watch sections (port and starboard) for routine duties while underway. More experienced sailors were stationed aloft, while others under the direction of petty officers manned the rigging which controlled the sails from deck. In battle, men also manned the guns and carronades. Boys carried the black powder charges from the magazine to the guns. Marines and soldiers were assigned to the fighting tops on the masts where they could fire their muskets on the enemy ships. Officers directed setting sails, firing cannon, and maneuvering the brig in response to orders from the captain.

…On September 10th, 1813, the British under Commodore Robert Heriot Barclay and the Americans under Perry met in battle near Put-in-Bay, Ohio. Perry’s flagship, Lawrence, engaged the British ships Detroit and Queen Charlotte, while the Niagara, for unknown reasons, did not close the enemy.

After the Lawrence was completely disabled, with most of her crew wounded or killed, Perry transferred by boat to the undamaged Niagara, hoisted his battle flag – “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP” – sailed her into close action, broke the British battle line, and forced Barclay to surrender. In the aftermath, Commodore Perry wrote his famous report to General William Henry Harrison, “We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.”

You can…

Trish wrote that the Flagship Niagara was in Detroit a year ago for Navy Week to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Detroit was chosen as a host city because of its direct link to the War of 1812. The city was an important military outpost in the war — but mainly for the British, who tricked the commander of Fort Detroit into surrendering the city without a shot and occupied it for more than a year. She also says to note the authentic 1812 U.S. flag!

Check her photo out bigger and see more in her Detroit slideshow.

More ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures.