Tuesday was a real paradox – three actually! We had Drs. Nancy and Marty Auer from Michigan Tech with us as well as Dr. Steve Lozano from the NOAA Great Lake Environmental Research Lab.
And we had a very full day of classroom and field activities, including an extensive cruise on the UW-Superior’s R/V L.L. Smith. And here’s the real paradox: for as busy as we were all day, there was a very relaxing and refreshing element provided by being on the water. And a delicious barbeque of shish kebobs while cruising slowly through a peaceful wetland area put the capstone on the day.
Nancy, Marty and Steve gave us a college course in Lake Superior limnology in just a few short hours.
We learned about the physical and chemical characteristics of the lake, the pelagic community of plankton, the benthos, and the fish community as well. In short we looked at the food web dynamics and the setting in which those dynamics occur. And then we went on to the water, first on open Lake Superior and then into the tributary streams and wetlands, sampling as we traveled, and then discussing what we found. Marty brought a sophisticated scope and monitor to look at plankton, while Nancy led an exploration of the gut contents of fish, and Steve gathered mud samples and sorted through the benthic, or bottom-dwelling, critters.
And the students said:
Capt. Dan and his able crew provided the water taxi for today’s adventure. - Patty
There are two ways to determine a food web. 1) Dissect a fish; 2) Use characteristics such as body shape, mouth position and eye position.
Although it seemed simplistic, taking temperatures at regular depth intervals and watching the layers show up was very interesting. This is something that middle school students could easily do and understand. – Denise
Today, we looked at food webs through the stomach of a lake trout. In its belly we found a smelt, which in turn had zooplankton in its stomach. What an awesome visualization for our students. – Erin
The L.L. Smith is a great boat and a great place to experience research on the Great Lakes. – Doug
Saw TWO eagles today. What awesome birds! – Jane
We saw a food web today, from sunlight through phytoplankton and zooplankton to fish. And then we saw an eagle extend the chain by catching a fish. - Jim W
Invasive species are opportunists. Are we willing to be honest and to call humans an invasive species?? – Paula
It was our turn to raise the bridge today, with a long-short-long-short series of booming blasts from the L.L. Smith’s horn as it headed out on to Lake Superior. – Randy
An answer from yesterday – English fuggle is the most revered and famous of all English hops and produces a robust, full and rounded flavor, particularly popular in ales. It is often used for dry hopping in cask ales. It was first propagated in the 1860’s from a plant found growing naturally in Kent, England.
And a question from yesterday offered by Randy – What do you call a former second-order river scientist?? Check back tomorrow for the answer to this groaner.
Here is a recap of the day in photos…
Eager students board the van for the aquarium
Morning groups get down to work
Boarding the L.L. Smith Jr.
Captain Dan at the helm
Captain Dan’s museum-quality helm. What a wheel!! Look at that telegraph!!
Playing chicken on Lake Superior. Do not try this at home.
Jamie at work in the plankton lab
Phytoplankton microvideo system. Very cool.
Phytoplankton on display
Same phytoplankton, up close this time
Nancy Auer introduces us to FISH GUTS!!
Fish Guts up close with Erica and Paula
Steve Lozano works with Kelly to sort benthic samples
Hard at work on the aft deck
Connie’s our new Captain?
Diane’s fish is on this bridge!!!! It’s the big one. The local custom remains a mystery.
Zebra mussels encrusing a native clam. Not good.
Did Cindy and Steve find Paddle??
Possible Paddle up close
A ship - research, education or otherwise - runs on its stomach
Lord Jim. Captain Dan wannabe.
This is tough work!
I had a good day
Marty Auer asking Captain Dan when we can go out on the L.L. Smith, Jr. again.