Guitars and melodies to stop spreading invaders

As an angler and mandolin player, I’ve often wondered what it is about the two seemingly disparate hobbies that draws me to them.

And I’m not alone. Most anglers I know have an acoustic lying around somewhere, and most guitar pickers I know have some pretty good trout stories.

If you look close, the Quagga mussel is dancing. Photo: NOAA

Well, that’s research for another day. But Bret Shaw, an environmental communication specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, is looking to tap into this connection to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes region.

Shaw worked with a group of singers and songwriters to produce songs that give melodic recommendations to boaters and anglers about cleaning their boats and not moving their bait.

And not only are there some catchy lyrics (“clean off that debris…throw it in the trash can drain out all your water; yeah, let it splash, man”)  all the songs have been checked for scientific accuracy.

Listen to the songs below:

“The Ballad of Aquatic Invasive Species”     Songwriter: Scott Gatzke

“One Bait, One Lake”     Songwriter: Andrew Isham

“Clean Boats, Clean Water”     Songwriter: James T. Spartz

While the songs are aimed to combat invasives, I think they’ve also freed me from a massive songwriter’s block. This whole time I’ve been thinking about trains, whiskey and women, and I should’ve been thinking about sea lamprey and mussels.

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About Brian Bienkowski

Brian currently serves as a reporter for Great Lakes Echo. He's also a contributor to Mindful Metropolis magazine, the City Pulse and Michigan River News. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in business marketing in 2005 and will graduate with a master's degree in environmental journalism this May. Office: 517.432.5155 Twitter: @BrianBienkowski

  • James

    Glad you like the lyrics! It was a fun project. If it’s inspiring (and memorable) to others, that was a goal. Thanks for your interest. If we ever get the chance, we’ll jam on trains, whiskey, women (and mussels).

    - James T. Spartz, Madison, WI