Fighting for Fishing

via leelanau.com

Fishtown's Joy by Mark Smith

Fishtown’s Joy by Mark Smith

The Leelanau Ticker reports that the Michigan Fish Producers Association (MFPA) has filed a class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to protect the future commercial fishing in Leland’s Fishtown and the rest of the Great Lakes:

In its lawsuit, the MFPA alleges that the DNR is retaliating against the industry’s opposition to a series of bills considered by the Michigan Legislature last year. The complaint also alleges that the imposition of new rules under the DNR’s Fishing Order 243.21, which took effect January 8, was an attempt to punish commercial fishers for their involvement in the political process.

Fishtown Preservation Society (FPS) Executive Director Amanda Holmes says the complexities surrounding the laws for commercial fishing is nothing new for the State of Michigan and for Fishtown. “One of the reasons that Bill Carlson and his family decided to let go of Fishtown was because of the challenges to the commercial fishing industry — they fought long and hard and then decided to let it go.” (In June of 2006, the nonprofit FPS reached an agreement to purchase Fishtown for $2.8 million for the Fishtown real estate and $200,000 for the two fishing boats, fishing licenses and equipment from the Carlson family.) Carlson’s Fishery continues to operate as a processor and distributor, buying fish from commercial fishers and selling it locally and through wholesale channels.

Holmes tells the Leelanau Ticker, “Fishtown the place would continue without commercial fishing, but one the things that makes Fishtown so exceptional and special is its unbroken and documented heritage of commercial fishing for nearly two centuries.”

If the new fishing order rules stand: “The limitations on the fishing depths and the season alone will make it a challenge to fish out of Fishtown. What this means is that…a way of life is at risk of closure,” says Holmes.

Read on for more in the Leelanau Ticker.

Mark took this photo back in December of 2018. See his latest at Downstreamer on Flickr

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Into the frosty past

Push Ice Lake Michigan by Charles Bonham

Push Ice, Lake Michigan by Charles Bonham

The Traverse City Ticker reports that with less than 2% ice coverage so far, the Great Lakes are experiencing record low ice cover this winter:

According to Dr. Jia Wang, a research ice climatologist and physical oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Great Lakes region is experiencing “warmer-than-usual weather” this season due to a combination of weather patterns including strong La Niña conditions. As a result, the maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes is only projected to reach 30 percent this year, Wang says – “way below” the average of 53 percent. Lake Michigan is expected to reach a maximum ice cover of just 23 percent, compared to an average 40 percent.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay has records for nearly two centuries on the freeze rate of West Grand Traverse Bay, including when it reaches the freeze point each year (if at all) and how many days it stays frozen over. While the Great Lakes often follow cyclical patterns, data shows that trends appear to be intensifying in recent years – a result many scientists attribute to climate change and include categories like water levels and ice cover. That trend can also be seen in Grand Traverse Bay freeze records, according to Watershed Center Executive Director Christine Crissman.

“If you look at the last 170 years overall, the bay definitely freezes over a majority of the time,” she says. “But if you start looking more closely at recent years, we are seeing a trend of less ice cover. From 1980 to present, the bay has only frozen over 38 percent of the time. Before 1980, it was 84 percent of the time. And even when it does freeze now, it doesn’t tend to freeze as long as it used to. It might be 20 to 40 days, where it used to be 70 days, 116 days.”

Charles took this photo back in 2015 off Gills Pier on the Leelanau Peninsula. Head over to his Flickr for more!

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Restore Your Spirit on Michigan’s Beaches!

Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

Restore Your Spirit by Lisa Flaska Erickson Photography

“Take time in a place you love, restore your spirit on the beach.”
~Luanne Rice

An excellent piece of advice, particularly in these dark times. Fortunately, all of Michigan’s Great Lakes beaches are open to the public for walking by law, and you are never more 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes!

Lisa took this photo on Lake Huron on the beach by 40 Mile Point Lighthouse. For more pics, follow her on Facebook or on her Instagram @supqueen.

PS: If you want to “virtually restore” check out many more Michigan beaches on Michigan in Pictures.

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Hot Times in the Great Lakes

Faith by Cameron

Faith by Cameron

mLive reports that hot weather & light winds are driving Great Lakes surface water temperatures off the charts:

Lake Michigan’s average surface water temperature has gone nearly vertical … in the past week or so. Lake Michigan now averages 74 degrees on the surface, which is 11 degrees warmer than the historical average water temperature on this date.

Lake Huron is eight degrees warmer than average at 69 degrees.

Lake Erie now is only four degrees from averaging 80 degrees. The average water temperature now is 76 degrees, with the long-term average water temperature at 70 for this date.

Lake Superior might still sound cold with an average surface water temperature of 54 degrees. The long-term historical average water temperature is 48 degrees.

Click through to see the graphs – it’s pretty incredible how warm they are right now!

I featured Cameron’s photo from Grand Traverse Bay in July of 2015, but it’s just so perfect I had to show it again. Stay cool & check out lots more pics in Cameron’s Elk Rapids, MI album on Flickr.

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Blue Ice at Bay City

Bay City Blue Ice, photo by Great Lakes Drone Works

Great Lakes Drone Works captured some awesome shots from the ice on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. They write:

We made our way out to Bay City State Park to capture some images of these huge chunks of ice. At first we were hoping drone photos would be the way to go but after walking around and getting up close, it was clear that ground photography was the better option.
Blue ice occurs when weather conditions — such as a lack of high winds — allow water to freeze slowly and evenly, resulting in ice composed of large crystals (unlike snow, which is formed quickly and made up of small crystals).

When light hits these big ice crystals, it can travel deep into the structures (compare this to snow, wherein light hits a sharp edge and reflects off of it right away, resulting in blinding white). When the light travels deeper into slowly formed ice, some of the red wavelengths of sunlight — which is the longest wavelength of visible light — get absorbed into the ice structure.

The blue, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bounces back out, meet our eyes, and results in a deep aqua color.

Head over to their Facebook for more shots and get lots more icy goodness at the ice tag on Michigan in Pictures!

Happy New Year 2019!!

Surfing the Great Lakes, photo by Paulh192

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”
– Neil Gaiman
 
Live, try, learn, grow & push yourself in 2019. Happy New Year everyone and for the Fun Police, don’t try surfing in the winter if you don’t know how to surf in the summer. ;)
 
Paul took this shot a surfer contemplating some mountainous waves on Lake Michigan on the pier in Grand Haven, Michigan during an unusually violent November storm. What looks like the shoreline on the upper right is actually another huge wave!
 
See Paul’s photo on Flickr and get lots more on his Flickr page!

S.S. Aquamara: The Great Lakes’ Largest Liner

aquarama-unloading-detroit

Aquamara unloading in Detroit, courtesy Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:

The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.

The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.

The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.

This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view.  Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.

Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.

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.

Cruise to 32 Lighthouses including the Skillagalee Island Light!

Ile aux Galets, courtesy Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light

I just learned about a super-cool cruise for lighthouse lovers that also benefits the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. mLive reports:

There are 80 spots available for the trip which takes place in the northern part of Lake Michigan June 5-9. It is presented by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, which oversees the care of two lighthouses in the region. Guests travel aboard the Shepler’s Ferry vessel HOPE and stay at different resorts along the way, including Weathervane Terrace Inn & Suites in Charlevoix and Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc.

“It’s an awesome thing to do,” said Terry Pepper, executive director. “Lighthouses were built for the mariners so by going out to see them the way they were designed for from the water is unique.”

Click above for more and make reservations at gllka.com. Speaking of Terry Pepper, let’s add another Michigan lighthouse! Via Terry’s excellent Seeing the Light website here’s the Skillagalee Island Light Station:

Skillagalee Island is located some 7.7 miles Southwest of Waugoshance Island on the East side of the approach to the Gray’s Reef Passage. The tiny island represents but a small exposed portion of a large gravel shoal that extends 1.8 miles to its East and a half a mile to the Northwest.

Being very low in elevation, the island is barely visible except from close by, and to exacerbate the problem, the size of its exposed surface fluctuates dramatically with the level of the surrounding water. The island was considered a navigational hazard during the earliest days when the French Voyageurs took the time to name the place “Ile aux Galets,” which translates as “Island of Pebbles.”

A is so often the case, the English speaking mariners and settlers found the French name difficult to pronounce, and “Ile aux Galets” soon unofficially mutated into “Skillagalee.” The anglicized version took hold, and by the mid 1800’s references to the original French name all but disappeared.

While Skillagalee laid claim to many wrecks over the years, the grounding of the A.D. PATCHIN was seminal in the call for the construction of an aid to navigation on the island. The PATCHIN was a 226 foot wood-hulled sidewheel steamer built in Trenton Michigan in 1846. Laden with general merchandise, she was making her way into Grays Reef Passage on September 27, 1850, when the currents pulled her out of line and onto shore at Skillagalee. While her crew managed to escape to safety and the initial damage to her hull was minimal, the weather turned evil and thwarted a number of attempts to pull her free. By late November she had been pounded to pieces, becoming yet another of Lake Michigan’s many victims.

To answer the need for a navigational aid to warn mariners of the shoal’s existence, Congress appropriated the necessary funds to construct a light on Skillagalee Island in 1851. As a result of the exposed location and fluctuating water tables, the tower was in constant need of repair, a cycle that would be repeated throughout the station’s history.

Read on for more and check ou tSeeing the Light for more Great Lakes Lighthouses!

Bradley Fleet in “the Frog Pond”

Bradley Fleet in the Frog Pond

Layed-up in the Frog Pond, photo courtesy Presque Isle County Historical Museum

This would be where I would tell you the fascinating history of why the winter harbor at Rogers City was referred to as the Frog Pond, but I’m unable to find much except for that’s what everyone calls it. There’s one in Toledo too.

The Presque Isle County Historical Museum is located in the historic home of Carl D. Bradley, general manager of Michigan Limestone and subsidiary Calcite Transportation. About the photo, they write:

The Bradley fleet layed-up in the “frog pond” at Calcite in 1949. From left to right are the W. F. White, B. H. Taylor, John G. Munson, Carl D. Bradley, T. W. Robinson, and Calcite.

View it big as the Bradley and see more in their Bradley Transportation Fleet slideshow including this aerial shot of the Frog Pond.

Click for more about the Carl D Bradley which ultimately became one of Michigan’s most tragic wrecks.