The spiny water flea could wreak havoc in Midwest Lakes

The Spiny Water Flea Could Wreak Havoc on the Most Pristine Waters in the Upper Midwest. Boaters and Anglers are the Only Ones Who Can Stop It

The spiny water flea is a tiny invasive species that’s threatening gamefish species as it spreads from the Great Lakes

It seems that the next troublesome invasive species in the Upper Midwest is a tiny one. The spiny water flea has been latching onto fishing equipment, traveling the Great Lakes for decades, but now they are being transported to some of the most pristine waters in the Upper Midwest. The spiny water flea is about half an inch long. It’s a creepy little critter, with a single, distinctive black eyespot at the head of one to four spines. A barbed tail juts out of its backside, making up about 70 percent of its length. The translucent hitchhiker hooks onto watercraft, fishing lines—essentially everything and anything that touches the water—and then gets transported to new waters.

Spiny Water Flea

Spiny Water Flea

“Most water fleas eat algae, but a few of them, like spiny water fleas, also eat other water fleas. It’s kind of like wolves eating coyotes or foxes,” says Dr. Valerie Brady, Aquatic Ecologist at the University of Minnesota.

While they present no danger to humans or domestic animals, spiny water fleas rattle ecosystems that support game fish. Spiny water fleas feed on other smaller, native water fleas, which are a vital food sources for small fish and keep algae in check. When plankton populations crash, that sinks small fish numbers, which in turn decreases game fish numbers.

“It’s not just another addition to the food web, it disrupts the food web and makes it harder for small or young fish to feed. That has potential implications for the whole food web,” Brady says.

The spiny water flea is being studied and monitored in Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As more new anglers and boaters hit the water last year during COVID—and could be back out this spring—it’s even more critical to get the word out about this invader.

Like most damaging invasive species, spiny water fleas reproduce rapidly. At optimum temperatures, one female can produce 10 genetic replicas every two weeks.

Currently, there are no successful means to eradicate the species. With no natural predators, there’s no stopping water fleas once they land in a lake. Small fish will choke or puncture their organs if they try to consume the flea due to its long, sharp spine.

Spiny water fleas also bring a million-dollar public recreation problem. As the fleas feed on plankton that consume algae, algae blooms begin to sprout up across a lake. Water treatment costs stack up, with municipalities spending millions to return to clearer water, including Wisconsin’s Lake Mendota.

“Two to four million was the estimate of water treatment costs to get the same level of water quality that [Lake Mendota] had before spending water fleas,” says Tim Campbell, aquatic invasive species outreach specialist at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute.

The spiny water flea was first identified in North American in 1984 in Lake Huron. Native to Russia’s Lake Ladoga, adjacent to the Baltic Sea, it arrived in the Midwest in the early 1980s after ships from European ports discharged ballast water into the St. Laurence River.

In the quarter-century since, the aquatic hitchhikers have spread by the “billions” across all of the Great Lakes. The creatures have begun to invade “our most pristine lakes,” the smaller inland waters of the Midwest and Canada.

“Once they get in, you can’t get rid of them. There’s no way to kill them without killing everything in the lake. That’s why we’re focusing so hard on stopping their spread,” Brady says.

Ecologists are calling on anglers and recreators to halt their spread. The most important step is to completely dry all fishing and boating equipment. The microscopic fleas can cling to fishing lines and survive in lake water at the base of your boat. Running a cloth down your fishing line can eliminate any aquatic hitchhikers reeled in.

“They cannot survive drying, so we urge anglers to get everything completely dry. The guidance is five days between boating trips [to different bodies of water], so if you [boat in spiny flea infested water] on Sunday, wait until the following weekend to go to a different body of water,” Campbell says.

Some have suggested that ducks are the culprits of cross-water spreads, but humans transporting the fleas is the clear issue. If you map out their spread, Brady notes, the majority of the fleas are found in lakes with public access.

Outdoor Life 02-10-2021

Cleaning up the Detroit River

2020 was another good year for habitat restoration and sediment investigation on the Detroit River but water levels created some unexpected issues.  While 2020 was different and unique for many reasons, progress was still made for habitat restoration and sediment investigation on the Detroit River. The Detroit River is one of 27 remaining U.S. Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. It was a busy year for habitat restoration for Michigan Sea Grant (MISG) and our partners, such as the Friends of the Detroit River (FDR). Although some projects were delayed due to COVID-19 or high water levels, most projects finished the year on schedule: 

Celeron Island

Celeron Island is part of the Detroit River Conservation Crescent near the southern end of Grosse Ile. The Celeron Island habitat restoration project was bid out in the fall of 2018, construction began in the spring of 2019 and was completed in 2020. The project has added nearly 4,000 linear feet of shoals with a sand bar for nesting turtles, snake hibernacula, and common tern nesting areas. The shoals also protect over 100 acres of coastal wetlands with additional spawning habitat to encourage a robust fish population.


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S.S. Carl D. Bradley – “Queen of the Lakes”

ROGERS CITY, MI – The last living survivor from the wreck of the S.S. Carl D. Bradley has died.

The Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan announced Friday the passing of Frank Mays, who was one of two men to survive when the vessel broke in two and sank in northern Lake Michigan during gale-force winds on Nov. 18, 1958.

In total, 33 men were killed, including 23 from Rogers City.  S.S. Carl D. Bradley was built in 1927 by the American Ship Building Company in Lorain, Ohio. She retained the title of “Queen of the Lakes” for 22 years as the longest and largest freighter on the Great Lakes before her tragic sinking about 12 miles southwest of Gull Island in 1958.Bradley- "Queen of the Lakes"

“The Edmund Fitzgerald gets lots of attention, because of the Gordon Lightfoot song and the speculation on what caused it to sink. However, the Bradley sinking claimed more lives, featured an unbelievable night of four men clinging to a small raft and the thrilling rescue attempt,” said Eric Gaertner, a news leader for MLive in Grand Rapids who wrote a book about the wreck called “Torn in Two: The True Story of the Carl D. Bradley Sinking and the Challenges for Those Left Behind.”

 

Hundreds of shipwreck artifacts, worth about $1.5M – Racine Heritage Museum

RACINE — “Captain” Dan Johnson, a shipwreck hunter, was just a diving apprentice in 1978 when he decided to enter the waters of Lake Michigan in Racine in search for the Kate Kelly.

The Kate Kelly was a 126-foot schooner ship that sank in May 1895 off the coast of Wind Point. According to WisconsinShipwrecks.com, the Kate Kelly sank during “a vicious spring storm (that had) exploded across Lake Michigan.”

Three summers after Johnson’s first dive, in 1981, he discovered the Kate Kelly. “It was my first shipwreck I discovered,” said Johnson, 66.

 

Now, Johnson is in talks with the Racine Heritage Museum to donate the Kate Kelly artifacts, along with other artifacts related to shipwrecks in the Racine side of Lake Michigan, totaling up to a value of over $1.5 million.

“We’re very excited,” said Christopher R. Paulson, executive director of the Racine Heritage Museum. “The opportunity to share (the collection) with our constituency is a welcome one.”

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Perch Fishing Report Monroe Michigan 10-10-2020

The 2020 Perch fishing season is in full swing with many limit catch’s near #1 Buoy, off of Stoney Point in 23 ft to 27 feet of water and straight out from Bowles Harbor from 17 to 22 feet of water.

Perch fishing charter Lake Erie Stray Cat Fishing Charter MI

Perch fishing charter Lake Erie Stray Cat Fishing Charter MI

C Buoy between Bolles Harbor and Toledo Beach Marina produced some limit catch’s this week. The dumping grounds is always a favorite spot but gets to crowded. Moving around a bit seems to help as the White Perch can be quite aggressive. I seem to catch more perch when I was away from the other boats.

Lake Erie Perch fishing Stray Cat Fishing Charters Michigan

Lake Erie Perch fishing Stray Cat Fishing Charters Michigan

Don’t crowd your fellow anglers, there’s plenty of room on the lake and plenty of perch to go around!  The best method is to start in a general area and slowly cruise watching your graph for perch on the bottom and bait fish near the bottom. When you find them it may not look like a lot but generally more will come to your spot after you catch some and the other perch see action in the area. You will notice none of the charter boats sitting on top of each other (for a reason!). Just because you see a large group of boats doesn’t mean there are a ton of perch there and just because you see a charter boat doesn’t mean a ton of perch either. Charter boats tend to move around a lot due to the fact we don’t have all day to spend on the lake and have to put our guests on fish fast because we are limited by time. I like to do a little searching before I set up. I usually end up by myself with a pile of perch to myself because I did my homework, not just following the crowd.

Perch fishing charter Lake Erie Stray Cat Fishing Charter MI

Perch fishing charter aboard the Stray Cat Monroe, MI

Perch Fishing Report Monroe Michigan 08-07-2020

The 2020 Perch fishing season is 10 times better than the 2019 season so far! Many limit catch’s near #1 Buoy, off of Stoney Point in 23 ft of water.

C Buoy between Bolles Harbor and Toledo Beach Marina produced some limit catch’s this week. The dumping grounds is always a favorite spot.

Don’t crowd your fellow anglers, there’s plenty of room on the lake and plenty of perch to go around!. The best method is to start in a general area and slowly cruise watching your graph for perch on the bottom. When you find them it may not look like a lot but generally more will come to your spot after you catch some and the other perch see action in the area. Just because you see a large group of boats doesn’t mean there are a ton of perch. I like to do a little searching before I set up. I usually end up by myself with a pile of perch to myself.

Lake Erie Perch fishing charter trip

Ben’s first double Lake Erie perch

Fishing Report Lake Erie Monroe Michigan 07-03-2020

Walleye fishing on the Western Basin has been very productive during the Mayfly hatch especially early morning and late afternoon. Best bets are off Stoney Point near the restriction buoys at Fermi in 22 to 24 ft. of water. Either side on #1 buoy for about a mile and a half all the way back towards Bolles Harbor into 17 feet of water. The “Swamp” near Turtle Island to Luna Pier in 15′ to 17′ of water produced early mornings. I’ve used spoons with mini disc’s and wiggle warts both run from 70′ to 80′ back – color didn’t seem to matter. High divers at 42′ to 45′ and low divers 32′ to 36′. Jr. Silver Streak spoon – Cat-Dog  seemed the best on my low diver. Lots of short walleye this week, be patient the keepers will come. It’s a good thing for our future.

Walleye fishing Lake Erie

Walleye fishing Lake Erie

Please be courteous to fellow trollers and drifters we are all out to have fun and catch some walleye. Remember the U.S.C.G. “rules of the road” state if you are being approached by another vessel from your port side you the “right of way”. If you are being approached from your starboard side you “must give way” to the approaching vessel.  If your board gets run over it’s probably an accident  no need to come unglued at the offending fisherman. Have fun Be safe  

Lake Erie walleye numbers in stratosphere, future is bright

“The totals are astonishing,” said Hale. “We had high numbers in the 1980s, but we’ve made adjustments to our methods of counting walleye numbers, and believe this year’s population one the best we’ve seen.

“We have estimated today’s population of walleye that are two years old, or older, is about 116 million,” said Hale. “Our forecast for 2021 is a walleye population of 151 million.”

“The largest year-class in our present population is the 2018 class, which makes up about 75 percent of the population,” said Hale. “Anglers will be catching lots of walleye that are under the 15-inch size limit this summer, but those walleye will be legal to keep in 2021.”

2020 outlook read more

 

The Stonehedge of Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan — April 29, 2019

In 2007, a researcher was scanning the depths of Grand Traverse Bay in Northern Lake Michigan looking for shipwrecks. His name is Mark Holley, and he is a professor of underwater archaeology from Northwestern Michigan College, a public community college in Traverse City. What he found was even more remarkable than a rusted hull or the wooden beam of an old sailing ship.

Holley documented a formation of stones that appear to have been set in a specific order. The size, shaping, and placement of the stones seem to indicate they are not naturally occurring. If that is the case the stones must have been placed when the lake bed was dry, around the end of the last ice age. read more

This is one of those stories the internet loves. Tons of speculation, shreds of proof, all mixed with unexplainable circumstances. Did you know Lake Michigan has a spot on its sandy bottom where there appears to be a man-made stone formation?

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan

Fish wholesaler gets year for illegal trout

CHARLEVOIX, Mich. (AP) — A fish wholesaler in northern Michigan has been sentenced to a year in custody after pleading guilty to acquiring trout that were illegally caught in the Great Lakes.

Federal Judge Paul Maloney says John Cross III of Charlevoix can serve his sentence in the off-season. He appeared in court Monday, months after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

The government says Cross and his business, Cross Fisheries, bought about 50,000 pounds of lake trout from a fisherman who was using so-called trap nets. Those fish should have been thrown back into the water.

Separately, Cross’ business pleaded guilty to a felony. The judge will hold another hearing to determine a financial penalty.

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