Great Lakes on the line: It’s time to act on Asian carp

Doing it again this summer, photo by Kevin Povenz

If Asian carp ever get into the Great Lakes, fun in boats as shown above could well be a thing of the past. These invasive fish jump out of the water when disturbed by noise and vibrations. With an average weight of 30-40 pounds and some weighing in over 100 pounds, they can cause injury or death to boaters.

The Freep reports that a plan tentatively recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Asian carp from the Great Lakes would cost $275 million plus annual costs for maintaining and operating it of nearly $20 million a year:

Of all the options considered by the Army Corps for blocking the advance of Asian carp at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Ill., the tentatively selected plan was the most expensive. It would use noise to block the fish, along with an electric dispersal barrier, water jets, a flushing navigation lock and more.

…The plan, however, doesn’t guarantee success: The Army Corps estimated the species known as Asian carp would still have a 10%-17% probability of becoming established in the Great Lakes, down from 22%-36% if no action was taken.

The Corps estimated that closing the navigation lock altogether would have the greatest likelihood of stopping bighead carp and silver carp — the two invasive species that are known as Asian carp — from reaching Lake Michigan, bringing the probability down to 1%-3%. But the cost to inland shippers and the companies they serve would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars with some shippers going out of business.

I hate to be a jerk, but PUT THOSE SHIPPERS OUT OF BUSINESS. Asian carp in the Great Lakes would be a disaster* and seriously impact BILLIONS OF DOLLARS in wages tied to the health and recreational value of the Great Lakes.

View the photo bigger and see more in Kevin’s slideshow.

*Don’t take my word for it. Jet skiing or pleasure boating anyone? Note that this video is 3 years old and also is PG-13 for language.

Great Lakes Waves offer beauty, power & danger

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Untitled, photo by Scott Glenn

“These are not lakes, these are the world’s eighth seas, and her bottom is littered with the wreckage of over six thousand ships.”
~The Three Sisters, Song of the Lakes

This gorgeous shot of the St. Joseph Pier Lighthouses demonstrates the incredible power of Great Lakes waves. I live in Traverse City, and this summer it feels like Lake Michigan has claimed the lives of more people than normal. Whether or not that’s true (it’s not), I thought this photo offered the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tools for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!

  • Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack  incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.
  • The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)
  • Life jackets can save your life.  U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.
  • Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.
  • Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.
  • The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.
  • Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!

Check it out bigger and see more in Scott’s Lighthouses slideshow and also check out a winter view of the pier that Scott shot.

Catch a Michigan wave on Michigan in Pictures!