Catch of the Day
Enjoy the song and the commentary:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, a canal brought to me: Canals have been a significant source of invasive species into the Great Lakes region. Canals can be an invasion pathway by opening previously unavailable habitat to a species (e.g. alewives, lamprey) or by allowing ships with AIS in their ballast to enter the Great Lakes (e.g. quagga mussels, spiny water flea). In fact, the pathway into the Great Lakes region for nearly all of the invasive species in this jingle can be easily tied to a canal. The only exception is the red swamp crayfish; it likely made its way into Wisconsin via an aquarium release.
Twelve quaggas clogging – Quagga mussels are now the dominant invasive mussel in Lake Michigan. A congener (a member of the same genus) of zebra mussels, the quagga mussel can tolerate colder water and colonize soft substrates. These abilities have helped it colonize most of the benthic habitat in Lake Michigan. Just like zebra mussels, quagga mussels are quite effective at clogging water intake pipes and other infrastructure. Mitigating these impacts has cost Great Lakes residents millions of dollars.
‘Leven gobies gobbling – The round goby is very fond of fish eggs. It is a known predator of lake sturgeon and lake trout eggs, and a swarm of round gobies can decimate a smallmouth bass nest. They can also consume zebra and quagga mussels which can cause toxins to move up the food chain, or bioaccumulate. The best ways to prevent future inland round goby invasions is to not use round goby as bait and to not move live fish. This will keep the goby’s gobbling ways from spreading to interior lakes.
Ten alewives dying– Alewives are one of the few invasive species that foul Great Lake’s
beaches throughout the summer. Until the introduction of Pacific salmon, alewives died off in such great numbers that tractors were required to remove them from beaches. Salmon now do a great job controlling alewife numbers, but there are still alewife die-offs due to spawning and temperature related stresses.
Nine eggs in resting – The spiny waterflea and the fishhook waterflea produce tiny resting eggs that can survive as much as 12 hours after the mature waterflea has perished. The resting eggs can also survive extreme environmental conditions, so it is imperative to make sure that recreational equipment is cleaned to prevent spreading these invasive crustaceans. Luckily, their Wisconsin distribution is currently limited to Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, the Madison Lakes, and a few other inland lakes.
Eight shrimp ‘a swarming– The bloody red shrimp is one of the Great Lakes most recently
discovered ballast invaders. Bloody red shrimp swarms can be incredibly abundant, with swarms up to 1500 individuals/square meter being documented. Their effects on the Great Lakes are largely unknown, but they may compete for food with young fish, and have been found in the diet of some fish in the Great Lakes. Regardless of the impacts, eight shrimp ‘a swarming is a huge underestimate.
Seven carp and counting – There are seven species of non-native carp in the United States. There are the four collectively known as Asian carp (black, grass, silver, and bighead), the common carp, the crucian carp, and last but not least, the Prussian carp (a wild version of the goldfish). While the current focus is on the silver and bighead carp, all of these carp cause problems one way or another. Hopefully we won’t actually be counting any other carp species soon.
Six lamprey leaping – This is some bad lamprey biology humor. Lampreys are actually poor jumpers, especially when compared to trout and salmon, so a small low-head obstacle or ledge can prevent lampreys from moving further upstream while other fish leap over the obstacle. Thus, physical barriers are one way managers are preventing lampreys from invading more streams in the Great Lakes basin.
FIVE ??? What? Readers, here’s your chance to test your songwriting chops. In the comments below indicate what you think this verse should say.
Four white perch on ice – Icing your catch is another way fishermen can help prevent the spread of invasive species. Many invasive species aren’t readily visible to the naked eye, including zebra and quagga mussel veligers, spiny and fishhook waterfleas, and viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Icing the day’s catch makes it so anglers don’t need to transport water and the organisms in it, while also improving table fare. The invasive white perch would go well on ice, as would the yellow perch and any of the other delicious fish species found in Wisconsin. A fish on ice is twice as nice; that’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one.
Three clean boat steps – Clean. Drain. Dry. Follow those three simple steps to stop aquatic hitchhikers. Not already familiar with the three clean boat steps? Here they are in a little more detail: Clean any weeds, mud, and debris from your boat, motor, and trailer. Drain any water from the boat, motor, live wells, bait wells, and bilge. Dry any equipment that came in contact for more than five days, especially if you will be using it on different waterbody.
Two red swamp crayfish – Two is the number of documented red swamp crayfish populations in Wisconsin. Both populations were detected early and contained. Time will tell if eradication efforts were successful in eliminating this common classroom dissection subject. Similar introductions can be prevented in the future by not releasing unwanted pets and classroom specimens. Not using crayfish as bait can also help prevent future crayfish invasions.
And a carp barrier in the city! – There are actually three electric barrier arrays in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Two of the barriers are always on, while the other is on standby to provide emergency backup or to be functional during periods of maintenance. This configuration has prevented radio tagged fish in an Army Corps of Engineers study from moving upstream of the barriers. As long as the electricity remains on, these barriers should prove to be effective at preventing additional silver and bighead carp from entering the Great Lakes until a more permanent solution can be found.
Lake Erie is among seven locations nationwide to receive new offshore wind investments from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The department recently announced $168 million for different projects to demonstrate technological development, reduce costs of wind energy, and ultimately add jobs.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., a public-private partnership, could receive up to $47 million to install nine 3-megawatt wind turbines seven miles off the coast of Cleveland, Ohio.
The goal is to achieve commercial operation by 2017.
An offshore wind industry could mirror the success of land-based wind energy, according to a report by economic services group Navigant Consortium that was commissioned for the department.
“Last year, land-based wind power represented 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the U.S.,” according to the department’s press release. And “nearly 70 percent of the equipment installed at those U.S. wind farms – including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears and generators – is now from domestic manufacturers.”
The report also recommended that appropriate policies guide offshore wind development.
“Significant technological advances are already unfolding within the offshore wind industry, but clearly additional policies could help to direct needed improvements to further reduce offshore wind costs and to stimulate needed infrastructure development,” it said.
Cleanup in the wake of a mercury spill can cost thousands of dollars, according to this public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Additional information on the safe disposal of mercury can be found at the health department’s mercury website.
The full series of health department mercury PSAs can be found here.
A community-based conservation group has received a $16,310 grant to plant native trees and other vegetation along a stretch of the St. Lawrence Seaway near Cornwall, Ontario, according to the Seaway News.
The vegetation is to help restore natural riverbank habitat, which provides food and cover for wildlife.
The Raisin Region Conservation Authority received the grant from the Great Lakes Guardian Community fund, which is operated by the province’s Ministry of the Environment.
The fund gives out grants to community associations and other groups every year, including grants to the Toronto Zoo and the Walpole Island First Nation tribe.
The muskie production program of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has turned a huge corner by stocking only Great Lakes muskies. The department has raised muskellunge for stocking for decades but had always used northern muskies. This is the second year it produced strictly Great Lakes muskies.
Mercury, a hazardous material found in many common household items, can be safely recycled by local health departments, according to this public service announcement from the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Additional information on the safe disposal of mercury, as well as the health risks the substance presents, can be found at the health department’s mercury website.
The full series of health department mercury PSAs can be found here.
A report grading water efficiency gives the Great Lakes states some low marks.
Wisconsin scored the highest in the region with a B-. Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania were tied for the lowest grade with a D.
Wisconsin got high marks for availability of technical assistance and for water conservation planning, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a non-profit group, and the Environmental Law Institute, a legal consulting firm.
“Wisconsin represents how water conservation planning can vary by source,” the report said. “Wisconsin has one generally applicable planning process for public water suppliers, and another planning process only applicable to large withdrawers from the Great Lakes Basin.”
The report also showed dryer, southwestern states with higher grades than the national average, C. Perhaps dry states are more efficient because they must make due with less. Could our states be taking our lakes for granted?
Great Lakes states by grade:
New York C