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Great Lakes

Orange construction barrels
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

On today's Stateside, you've probably seen pictures of plastic pollution in the ocean forming giant islands or entrapping sea animals. But what happens when plastic gets into the Great Lakes? Plus, a Michigan chaplain pushing for prison reform in the 1930s wanted to enrich inmates lives with art. 

protesters against Line 5 on the water
Courtesy of Andrea Pierce

This Saturday, a flotilla of kayaks, paddleboards, and birch bark canoes will paddle out into the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

It's the fourth annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the pair of oil and liquid natural gas pipelines known as Line 5 that lie beneath the Straits. 

Barbara Barton and Roger LaBine
Barbara Barton

 


There is a rich tradition of wild rice in our state, especially for Michigan's first people. The plant plays a big role in the culture of Anishinaabe tribes, who call it manoomin. 

A whitefish survey
Morgan Springer

Lake whitefish are the most important commercial fish species in Michigan.

But in the last decade, state biologists say fishers are harvesting about a third of what they used to get. The catch dropped to 1.7 million pounds last year, down from five million pounds in the early 2000s.

Agencies across the Great Lakes are trying to learn more about the population decline.  

Waves on Lake Michigan.
user ellenm1 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


It has been a dangerous month on Lake Michigan.

While there has been a below average number of drownings in the lake overall this year, there was a significant spike in deaths during August. 

Ten swimmers have already drowned. One is still missing.

A man and two women sit around a campfire, a banner in the background says "Honor the Treaties"
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Water Protectors are camping in Northern Michigan to call for a shutdown of Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline.

 

person on surfboard in Great Lakes
Courtesy of Great Lakes Surf Festival

It's been a lot of fun discovering the unique summer festivals happening around the state, celebrating everything from baby food to bologna.

This weekend, a festival in Muskegon will celebrate a sport that most people don't associate with the Great Lakes: surfing.

Elizabeth Whitmore and Joseph Connolly, Cornell University

Two additional new species of zooplankton were discovered in the Great Lakes. Researchers from the Cornell University Biological Field Station found the two new species in western Lake Erie during routine water sampling. They're native to South America and Asia, but are currently not considered invasive species.

That's according to James Watkins, a researcher with Cornell University.

Beach
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Like many of us, listener Steven Drews, from Lapeer, and his family love spending time at Lake Michigan during the summer. But for the past couple of years, Drews has noticed some changes at the his family's favorite Elberta, Michigan beach. The last time they visited, Drews said the beach they normally love to walk along was no longer there. Instead, there was a cliff. 

Map of Michigan
Limnotech

Scientists are creating an experimental warning system for meteotsunamis in the Great Lakes.

Meteotsunamis are potentially dangerous waves that are driven by storms.

Eric Anderson is a physical oceanographer with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Meteotsunamis are a very particular kind of wave and we don’t yet have the ability to forecast when and where they’re going to occur,” he says.

Photo by C. Daly, courtesy of Jo Latimore

If you’re out on a lake this summer and you stumble on a blob that looks like an alien life form, it could actually be a good thing.

Jo Latimore got an email recently about a weird-looking greenish-gray gelatinous blob that a boater found in Juno Lake in Cass County. Latimore is an aquatic ecologist at Michigan State University.

She says she got an email from the boater saying, “We found something that’s pretty gross attached to the bottom of one of our pontoon boats and we’re afraid of what it might be.”

Granite Island
Anne / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

NASA researchers have cast their eyes on a little island in Lake Superior that sits about 12 miles northwest of Marquette.

Granite Island has been chosen as a site for NASA research that could help scientists better understand the way clouds and aerosol particles in the atmosphere affect global climate change.

NASA is working with Northern Michigan University on the project.

Lake Michigan at sunrise.
Elvis Kennedy / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There's nothing better during a Michigan summer than spending time at the Great Lakes.

Stateside asked you what questions you had about the state's freshwater seas, and we'll be bringing you answers all summer long. 

We'll start today with a question from listener Ted Bonarski in Grand Rapids. 

"Are there areas of the Lower Peninsula where the aquifer is filled with Lake Superior water, so that someone pumping up from a well was getting water that was chemically traceable to Lake Superior?" 

quagga mussels in lake michigan
Greg Marks / NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Beaches along Lake Michigan are closed when E. coli bacteria gets too high. But a nasty critter found on the bottom of the lake might help keep the beaches open.

Lake Victoria, Mwanza, Tanzania
Jonathan Stonehouse / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCL0

 


The North American Great Lakes region has some of the world’s leading experts on freshwater issues. A new nonprofit wants to share this expertise with researchers working with the Great Lakes across the Atlantic in Africa. 

Ted Lawrence is executive director of the African Center for Aquatic Research and Education. He joined Stateside to talk about the similiarities between the North American and African Great Lakes, and what they can learn from each other. 

Lake Michigan just south of Racine County
GSA.GOV

 

President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan will be in Wisconsin this Thursday for the groundbreaking of the $10 billion Foxconn plant.

The Taiwanese electronics company has promised thousands of jobs in Racine County and in return has been offered $4.5 billion in tax incentives. 

The plant will also require 5.8 million gallons of water a day diverted from Lake Michigan for operations. 

Peder Toftegaard Olsen

Plenty of us will be enjoying the water and exploring the outdoors in Michigan this summer.

But writer, broadcaster, and attorney Steve Lehto is taking these sorts of adventures to a new level.

This July, Lehto will be taking a 1,200-mile motorized canoe trip from Duluth to Detroit via Sault Ste. Marie. He is retracing the path of famous Michigan explorer Douglass Houghton in the 1830s and 1840s.

Saugatuck Dunes
Wikimedia / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There's no better time than summer to enjoy Michigan's Great Lakes.

It is also a great time to learn something new about the freshwater seas that surround our state.

Because the lakes aren't just the perfect summer vacation spot, they're also a big part of Michigan's culture, economy, and environment.

Lily Holshoe in her Mermaid Nadie costume touching a fish
Courtesy of Lily Holshoe

 

If South Haven figures in your Memorial Day plans, get ready: You're going to see mermaids, mermen, and even merkids. 

It's the first-ever Mermaid MegaFest – four days of celebrating merfolk while focusing on preserving our natural freshwater resources. 

Kristina Stonehill

When you think of a mermaid story, maybe an ocean comes to mind.

But couldn’t a mermaid live in the Great Lakes? Lake Michigan maybe?

Writers Linda Nemec Foster and Anne-Marie Oomen posed that question to each other ten years ago. Their new book is called The Lake Michigan Mermaid: A Tale in Poems.

Preserve the Great Lakes ecosystem

Apr 18, 2018
Asian Carp
Kate Gardiner / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

I woke up this morning thinking about Asian carp.

I’d noticed that our state Senate spent much of yesterday doing things like voting to cut funding for those trying to get off Medicaid.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that many urban areas like Ann Arbor are overrun with white-tailed deer, the state House was voting to outlaw sterilizing them. I can’t imagine why anyone would say that our lawmakers don’t have their priorities straight.

The Great Lakes, the budget, and you

Mar 26, 2018
satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Congress passed a budget that gets us through the summer, Donald Trump has signed it, and it contains good news for all of us. For one thing, it means we have again dodged a government shutdown, at least till September.

For another, for the second year in a row, Congress has mostly reversed all the bad things the Trump administration wanted to do to Michigan. That would have included eliminating funds to protect the nation’s most important source of fresh water, a $300 million dollar program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

An old image of a two-masted schooner ship
Courtesy of Craig Rich

 


 

She sank in Lake Michigan during a squall in 1873. 
 
Now Michigan shipwreck hunters say they've discovered the final resting place of the Lizzie Throop, and it's a big find: the two-masted schooner is an important part of West Michigan's maritime history. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Next week, March 11–17, is Sunshine Week. For us Michiganders, the timing may seem a little off. It is squarely in the hopeless stage of our long, gray winter — what's this talk of "sunshine"? That's just mean.

Nevertheless, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press use this week each year to promote the importance of access to public information. Sunshine is a symbol for our communities to have transparent access to what's going on in our government. The tagline is: "It's Your Right to Know."

yooperann / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Let's talk about water.

That's the invitation from the Michigan Humanities Council to communities and organizations around the state. The council is accepting applications for groups to host Third Coast Conversations: Dialogues about Water in Michigan.

Trump should not ignore the Great Lakes

Feb 13, 2018
satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

There are a lot of baffling things about President Trump, but perhaps the most baffling is this: Usually, when you win a close election, you do everything you can to hang on to those voters who gave you victory.

Trump won the last election by a tiny margin, and he won it in the Great Lakes states, flipping Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio.

fungi growing on cheerio
Courtesy of Robert Cichewicz

Could a fungus from the bottom of the Great Lakes hold a cure for cancer?

The final answer is still far in the distance, but a team of scientists believes there is promise in newly discovered Great Lakes fungi.

Sampling locations in the Great Lakes region.
USGS/courtesy of Michelle Hladik

Insecticides widely used on farms, lawns and gardens — known as neonicotinoids — are showing up in rivers across the Great Lakes region.

Asian carp leaping out of a river.
Great Lakes Fishery Commission

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder announced an interstate partnership with leaders of the Great Lakes states to reduce the risk of invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes by strengthening defenses in a Chicago-area waterway. Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Ontario are the founding members of the partnership, representing more than 90% of the Great Lakes surface area.

The initiative contributes to reducing costs of upgrading the Brand Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois, a key choke point between the carp-infested Illinois River and Lake Michigan.

Alexis Rockman

 

 

He’s been widely praised for his paintings about natural history and ecological history.

 

Now, New York artist Alexis Rockman has turned to Michigan’s treasure — the Great Lakes.

 

His new show, "Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle," opens at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Jan. 27.

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