Piping plovers return to Lake Erie

Piping plover nests were found on the shores of all five Great Lakes last year for the first time since 1955.

The shore-dwelling bird disappeared from most of the Great Lakes in the 1980s and was listed as endangered in 1986, said Vince Cavalieri, the Great Lakes piping plover recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

At one point, up to 600 pairs nested throughout the Great Lakes. In 1990, only 12 pairs remained. Once found on sandy beaches from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, most of the survivors were clustered around the Sleeping Bear Dunes on Lake Michigan’s northwest shore.

But with the discovery of a nesting pair in Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle State Park last year–the first to take up residence on Lake Erie for 60 years–the winds have changed. Researchers found 76 nesting pairs throughout the Great Lakes region in 2017.Piping Plover

Two projects on the shores of Lake Michigan have already found success developing plover-friendly habitat: one at Wilderness State Park on the northern shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, the other on a series of eroded islands in Wisconsin’s Lower Green Bay.

Results came quickly. The park staff started clearing brush and trees from the shore in 2014, DeLoria said. In the summer of 2015, they observed a pair that had nested there. In 2016, that same pair returned to raise three chicks.

Efforts to restore beaches on the Cat Island Chain in the Lower Green Bay have brought similar success, said Reena Bowman, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Minnesota and Wisconsin Great Lakes piping plover lead.

“The species came back like immediately,” she said. “It was kind of a ‘build it and they will come’ kind of thing. And it wasn’t just plovers.”

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Apply to be a Keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse

Apply to be a lighthouse keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse. Get together with one, two or three friends for a service and recreation vacation like no other. 

Tawas Point Lighthouse

Tawas Point Lighthouse

In operation since 1876, Tawas Point Lighthouse is a fascinating attraction for maritime buffs. Tawas Point is a destination for birdwatchers; it also offers spectacular views of sunrises over Lake Huron and sunsets over Tawas Bay.

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Status of Sea Lamprey in the Great Lakes

Part of a successful sea lamprey control program is monitoring adult sea lamprey abundance in each lake and sea lamprey impacts on fish; the sea lamprey marking rate on lake trout, their preferred host, is used to assess impacts on fish. To better understand the relationship between sea lamprey abundance and marking rates on lake trout, the number of lake trout also needs to be assessed (i.e., the number of lake trout can influence the marking rate).

Sea lamprey populations are monitored by generating an adult sea lamprey abundance index for each lake. The index is calculated by assessment crews who capture migrating adult sea lamprey in index streams with traps during the spring and early summer. A mark-recapture study is conducted on each index stream to generate a population estimate. Individual index stream population estimates are then summed to create the lake-wide adult sea lamprey abundance index. Whole-lake adult sea lamprey abundance estimates can be calculated by multiplying the lake-wide index by a lake-specific conversion factor. Lake trout marking and abundance data are collected annually from management agencies around the Great Lakes to generate lake-wide marking rates and population estimates.

Success in meeting targets for both the adult sea lamprey abundance index and sea lamprey marking rates on lake trout is determined by assessing the 3-year average index or marking rate compared to the targets. There are no targets for lake trout abundance in the context of reporting sea lamprey status. The trend of the adult sea lamprey abundance index, sea lamprey marking rate on lake trout, and lake trout abundance is determined by the direction of the slope over the past five years. Single year point estimates fluctuate and can have wide error bars, thus the focus on 3-year averages and 5-year trends.

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Could the sounds of spawning lure lake trout?

Lake trout make noise in bed, according to new research by Great Lakes scientists.

The species commonly growl, snap, quiver and thump while spawning, according to a study in the “Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.”

The report may cause a smirk, but researchers say the findings are serious.

“Peeping on spawning lake trout with a camera and microphone could be the premise of an interesting comedy skit, but also makes for interesting science that could help improve how fish populations are monitored,” said Nick Johnson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Scientists could potentially use the audio sounds to lure fish to spawning areas, Johnson said.

Lake Trout

Lake Trout

“If you walk down the street and hear a party going you might want to check it out,” he said. “There are historical reefs in the Great Lakes that are no longer being used for spawning . . . we may be able to play back the sounds of reproduction to lure in the trout and try to get them interested in spawning there.”

Johnson led a team that included researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Windsor and the University of Vermont, and that recorded spawning lake trout with cameras and hydrophones. Hydrophones are underwater microphones that detect the sounds of boats, waves and the quietest fish.

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Charter fishing operations offer great options for novice and experienced anglers

For those who don’t have a fishing boat, may not have the correct fishing gear, don’t know how to fish, are new to an area, or are just looking for a day of fun, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests considering a charter fishing trip. Charter fishing businesses are located throughout the state and offer a great way to experience Michigan’s world-class fisheries.

Lake Erie walleye charter aboard the Stray Cat Monroe, MI 48145

Sam walleye fishing Lake Erie

Licensed fishing charters make a full or half-day of fishing easy and enjoyable, as they provide the boat and all the equipment, plus the knowledge needed for a day on the water. Fishing charters are for anyone, children or adult, from the first-time angler to those who are experienced. Charter businesses in Michigan help anglers of all experience levels enjoy memorable experiences – whether it’s reeling in a fish for the first time or trying one’s hand at catching a new species.

In Michigan in 2016, more than 70,000 anglers participated in more than 17,000 charter fishing trips on Great Lakes and specific navigable waters. These anglers caught more than 244,000 fish of various species, with about half of the fish caught being trout and salmon.

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Tagged fish provide DNR with critical information

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources again this year is encouraging Great Lakes anglers who catch marked and tagged fish to report them. The DNR has used the coded-wire tag program to mass mark various fish species in Michigan since the 1980s. Mass marking provides critical data as fisheries biologists look to determine the value of naturally reproduced fish versus stocked fish, and lakewide movement of fish.

The coded-wire tag program involves implanting a small, coded-wire tag, which is invisible to the naked eye, into the snout of a fish. A fish containing a coded-wire tag can be identified because its adipose fin (the small, fleshy fin between the dorsal and tail fins) has been removed. An angler who catch a tagged fish then can record needed information about the fish, remove and freeze the fish’s snout, and drop it off at a designated location. A statewide list of dropoff locations can be found on the DNR website.

For years the DNR primarily tagged Chinook salmon and lake trout as part of its mass marking effort in Lake Huron. Tagging these fish has helped biologists understand more about lakewide natural reproduction and how many wild fish are available in the Great Lakes. It also has helped determine if the percentage of wild fish varies from year to year and how fish stocking locations contribute to lake and river fisheries. Additionally, it provides insight into fish movement and where fish are stocked compared to where they are caught.

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Split Rock Lighthouse gets preservation grant

SILVER BAY, Minn. — The state’s federal lawmakers have announced a $68,000 preservation grant for Split Rock Lighthouse  — money that will help outline long-term management and preservation efforts of the iconic North Shore lighthouse.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse is located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, southwest of Silver Bay. The lighthouse was first built in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service as a response to the famous Mataafa Storm of 1905 where 29 ships were damaged or destroyed on Lake Superior. It has been restored to replicate what it looked like in the 1920s, including the original tower, lens, fog signal building, oil house, and the three keepers’ houses. The light in Split Rock Lighthouse was retired in 1969 by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Charter Fishing Operations offer options to Michigan anglers

Walleye fishing aboard the charter boat Stray Cat Lake Erie Michigan

Grandpa walleye fishing with his Grandson aboard the charter boat Stray Cat Lake Erie Michigan

Experience Michigan’s world-class fisheries.
Licensed fishing charters make a full or half day of fishing easy and enjoyable as they provide the boat, all the equipment, plus the knowledge necessary for a day on the water. Fishing charters are for anyone, children or adults, from the first-time angler to those who are experienced. Charter businesses in Michigan help anglers have memorable experiences – whether it’s reeling in a fish for the first time or trying one’s hand at catching a new species.

In 2015, more than 68,000 anglers participated in more than 17,000 charter fishing trips in Michigan. These anglers enjoyed catching more than 205,000 fish of various species.

Find a fishing charter for a specific location by searching the web, contacting the local area Chamber of Commerce or city tourism office, or visiting the Michigan Charter Boat Association web site. For an even more individual experience and enjoyable end of the fishing trip, customers can try a “Catch & Cook” charter. Upon returning from a trip, customers take their cleaned, fresh fish to a participating local restaurant, which will prepare and serve the catch for the customer. Participating “Catch & Cook” charters can be viewed at michigancatchandcook.com.

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Michigan 2016 Spring fishing seasons opening soon

We’re just days away from the opening of numerous Michigan fishing seasons:

Lake Erie walleye fishing charter trip

Trevor with a Lake Erie walleye and Muskie

Bass Catch & Keep Season: Starts May 28 on all waters including Great Lakes
  Starts June 18 on Lake St. Clair and St. Clair & Detroit Rivers
Muskellunge, Northern Pike &   Walleye:              Starts April 30 on Lower Peninsula inland waters
  Starts May 15 on Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters & St. Mary’s River
Statewide Salmon & Trout Season:
 
Starts April 30 on (inland) type 1 & 2 streams and type A & D lakes

Don’t allow fish farms in Michigan waters

03-03-2016

By Howard A. Tanner                                                                

One of my frustrations in my retirement has been a difficulty in speaking out on issues that are of some concern to me. Being 92 has its limitations – but my friends assure me, it’s not limited my expertise.

But I’m speaking out today to express my strong opposition to aquaculture in the waters and connecting rivers of the Great Lakes – including the Au Sable River.

When I think of Michigan’s latest infatuation with aquaculture – be it in Grayling on the Au Sable River, or in the Great Lakes – I am reminded of a saying: Some people learn from their mistakes. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.

There are many mistakes to learn from when it comes to using our public waters as the sewers for private companies raising and selling fish. All around the globe, fish farming in public waters has led to water pollution, spread of fish disease, and widespread opposition by those who have to live with the visual pollution and other consequences of fish farming.

We here in Michigan have labored for sixty years to make our lakes clean. We are leaders of all matters related to the Great Lakes. Half the population of Michigan gets its water from the Great Lakes, part of 30 million people in the basin who rely on the lakes for drinking water. Maintaining the cleanliness of this water should be the top priority for state and federal officials.

The phosphate emissions from the fish in one net pen operation is the equivalent of the phosphate emissions from a sewer plant for 10,000 people. This fish sewage will create filamentous algae, which will wash up on nearby beaches, rot and stink. If this is going to be a $1 billion industry, as advocates say, there will be about 100 net pen operations, filling virtually every bay of any size in Michigan’s portion of the Great Lakes. Imagine one in Grand Traverse Bay, or in front of the Grand Hotel, or in the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix.

Already, the lakes are under pressure, with algae blooms from high phosphorous levels (the kind virtually guaranteed to grow with fish farming) creating toxins forcing closure of water intakes in cities including Cleveland and Toledo in recent years. Will Rogers once counseled wise men should drink upstream from the herd – but many of Michigan’s major cities would be downstream from this herd of fish.

Any mistakes in the Great Lakes are uncorrectable. People advocating for aquaculture talk about adaptive management – when they make a mistake, they will correct it. But in a huge area, you can’t make a correction.

And the impact of a mistake on a river like the Au Sable could easily damage the river, and its economic potential, for generations. The addition of more than 1,500 pounds of algae-creating phosphorous a year from the proposed Grayling fish farm will be devastating to the river’s ecosystem.

People have learned this the hard way in Norway and in Chile, where massive net penning operations have collapsed financially. As can easily be expected when you put that many animals into a confined area, the fish farms have introduced diseases into the natural population. Today, the natural Atlantic Salmon fishery in the North Atlantic is shrinking. It’s an ecological disaster.

These same patterns are seen in flow-through fish farms, such as the one being developed on the Au Sable. They all do the same thing – they make no pretense of treating the fecal and urine matter of a large number of animals. They discharge that matter into the public water – our drinking water, for many communities on the Great Lakes.

I know these issues well. I grew up in Bellaire, and guided anglers on the Chain O’ Lakes. I fished the “Holy Waters” with George Griffiths, and stayed at his beloved “Barbless Hook” on the banks of Au Sable.

I studied fish and their habitats – including an experiment where I looked into the impact of adding nutrients to six lakes. My conclusion: This was a big mistake. And I was part of a team that introduced salmon into the Great Lakes.

So it’s with a love of Michigan’s great waters, experience as a scientist and teacher and the understanding of the pressures facing regulators gained through a long career with the Department of Natural Resources that I speak today.

Michigan shouldn’t be inviting any industry into our state that says, “don’t make us treat our waste. Let us dump it into your fresh water.”

You wouldn’t put a pigpen in a rose garden. It’s just common sense.

Don’t put fish farms on our rivers or in our Great Lakes. It’s just common sense.

bridgemi.com/2016/03/dont-allow-fish-farms-in-michigan-waters