Record summer heat killing more fish

Summer fish kills are not unusual.

Heat and drought means less oxygen is dissolved in water.

This year there is more of both in the Great Lakes region, resulting in more fish kill reports than usual.

Map of Great Lakes currents helps lake lovers stay safe

An animated map of Great Lakes currents can help lake-goers interpret the speed and direction of currents in any location. “We are trying to provide information so people can learn about circulation in the lakes and get a sense for how frequently it changes,” said David Schwab, an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The administration recently released the map to provide information that is a little less technical, Schwab said. Users can either view the surface current map or the depth-averaged current map. Surface currents change frequently due to wind conditions, Schwab said.

Internet provides easy access to Great Lakes beach closures

It is now easier than ever for people to find out if a Great Lakes beach is safe for swimming. Excluding New York, all of the Great Lakes states have websites dedicated to statewide beach closure information, so people can better avoid possible sickness. “The source of the data comes from all of the local health departments that collect water samples, get them tested, then report results according to public health code,” said Shannon Briggs, toxicologist at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Many of these websites are a result of funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s BEACH act grants. Grants have been given to eligible Great Lakes states since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health act in 2000 to improve beach monitoring and notification programs.

All of the Great Lakes states were given around $220,000 this year in BEACH act grants, according to the agency’s website.

Tour a Thunder Bay shipwreck without getting wet

Calling all shipwreck enthusiasts! Always wanted to explore an underwater shipwreck but not a fan of getting wet? This Saturday is your lucky day. Anyone with an Internet connection will have access to an underwater shipwreck tour at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Mich. Saturday.

Feds to provide $10 million in funding for Great Lakes phosphorus reduction programs

Federal officials are giving out $10 million in grants to reduce phosphorus in the Great Lakes. The element is tied to the production of algae, which can be toxic to wildlife and people. The funding is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, launched in 2010 to tackle a diverse set of environmental problems.

High levels of phosphorus are often due to farm runoff and poorly treated sewage, according to the initiative’s action plan. The grants are aimed at farmers who are looking for more efficient conservation programs for their land and nearby water sources. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service is the primary agency administering the grants aimed at phosphorus reduction.