Wildlife cameras put you in the nest

Ever since Panda Cam hit the watching-baby-zoo-animals-from-the-comfort-of-your-office-chair scene, other animal cams have appeared to give viewers a look into the lives of wildlife. That’s including cameras following some Great Lakes birds. You can see Ms. Harvey, the great horned owl at The Feather Rehabilitation Center in New London, Wisc.; Big Red and Ezra, a pair of red-tailed hawks at the Ornithology Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. and a great blue heron at the Ornithology Lab. “It allows people to build a connection with birds from their computer screens,” said Charles Eldermire, BirdCams project leader at the lab. The Ornithology Lab at Cornell University has been monitoring birds with minute-by-minute photos for over 10 years, but launched their high-definition BirdCams in March.

Is that a shark or a submarine? Diving machines could be coming to a Great Lake near you

Move over, jet skis — there’s a new watercraft terrorizing the lakes. Seabreachers, sold by Innespace, are like one-person submarines that can dive about five feet, go 40 mph on the surface and up to 20 mph under the water. I’ve never seen one in action, but this video caught my attention. Just imagine one of those popping up next to you on the lake. Seabreachers  look like animals — sharks, killer whales and dolphins.

Handheld pathogen sensor detects bugs in food, environment

When there’s an outbreak of foodborne illness, health inspectors are on the case looking for clues that lead to the tiny culprit making people sick. But instead of sending samples to an off-site lab, inspectors could soon hold the answers in the palm of their hands. Michigan researchers came up with a quick, easy and cheap way to test for toxins and germs using nanotechnology, the study of things on a molecular scale. “It’s a chemical, electrical way of telling the presence of something you’re looking for in a very quick manner,” said Fred Beyerlein, CEO of NanoRETE, the company developing the technology. If contaminated spinach is the suspect, an inspector would put a spinach leaf in a bag of clean water, swish it around until particles wash off the leaf, then test the water for germs. The sensor picks up on changes in the electrical conductivity of the water to find pathogens.

Ski mountain to make snow out of wastewater

Have I mentioned that Great Lakes Echo reporters love poop stories? Because I found another one. Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort outside of Flagstaff, Ariz. has found a new way to make artificial snow using reclaimed water from Flagstaff’s wastewater treatment plant. Not that everyone thinks sewage-snow is a great idea.

Asian carp recipe guide and other Great Lakes gifts from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

If you’ve got a Great Lakes lover on your list, consider the birthday shopping done. You might even take care of birthday dinner using the Asian Carp Cuisine recipe guide. (It’s a free download!)

It’s also among the signs, stickers, posters, brochures and cards that the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant sells, or otherwise provides, to help people identify invasive species and prevent them from spreading. “The main issue is to raise awareness, especially when it comes to those who can have an impact on the movement of these species from one water body to another, like anglers and boaters,” said Irene Miles, communication coordinator for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant program. Some products, like the WATCH cards that have pictures and information about invasive species, tell people how to report an invasive species sighting.

Monday Memes: Introducing Great Lakes memes

We’re usually up to our elbows in writing traditional Great Lakes news stories, so it’s nice to take a break.  Let’s take a moment to escape deep into the Internet — and bring the Great Lakes with us. Introducing, Great Lakes Memes. Confused Cougar














Lovesick Lamprey









Algae Party









Internet memes are ideas, lingo or pictures sent through the Internet. You’ve probably seen them passed around Facebook and Twitter.

Refuse may power robots of the future

You know you’re a Great Lakes reporter when… the words “fecal matter” pique your interest instead of gross you out. Which is why so many waste-related stories get passed around the Echo newsroom. Here’s the latest: Human waste-powered robots may be the future of machines. Apparently robots of the future will be self-sustaining and will refuel by grazing on organic matter like human waste. Don’t ask me where they have to scavenge to recharge.