Bon Voyage!

August 18, 2007

View the Lake Huron Exploration Workshop Event Page

Buoyed by last night’s festivities, our energy registered high as we shared projects that reflected what we learned. We have been inspired to maintain professional relationships with scientists and each other, and inspired to carry our experiences to classrooms and colleagues.

Travel time home provides us with echoes of reflections from our rich COSEE experiences. We will arrive back in our schools as changed educators.

The COSEE experiences will continue along the shores of Lake Michigan in 2008. Good bye, Alpeana. You were a great host. Hello, Chicago!
Group Shot

post by Doug Damery, from Lake Huron Exploration WorkshopComments (0)

Rushes are Round and Sedges have Edges …

August 17, 2007

Plug into Wetlands

Don Uzarski, biologist at Central Michigan University, presented extensive research on wetlands: their components and their ever-changing make-up due to natural and human influences. His cutting-edge presentations found an audience not only with us, but in testimony to the EPA.

In our visit to a wetland, we checked fyke nets previously set up by Do, and Brandon Schroeder. The first one was almost high and dry, evidence of a seiche in progress (Hey, seiche happens!). Our captures in the second fyke net were largemouth bass, a few sunfish, and bluntnose minnows. Our trail to the shoreline took us through some alien invasive plants: purple loosestrife and phragmites.
Fyke nets

In his presentation on regional Native American culture, Nick Reo of Michigan State University extension emphasized a traditional land ethic which considers people as an integral part of natural ecosystems.
Indian PPT

In a reflective evening, we relived the highlights and “special” moments of the past week. An abundance of appreciation to Alpena’s own Jennifer Poli for her efforts to publicize the workshop. We enjoyed the lead story about the COSEE program on the 11 p.m. newscast. Accolades to Doug Damery for his high-tech whiz-dom with the blog and for his closing Powerpoint!

Humor Corner
It’s dig-up-able. (Brandon)
…too special to include. (Howard)
You can remediate stupid. (Randy)

post by Doug Damery, from Lake Huron Exploration WorkshopComments (0)

The Shocking Truth!

August 16, 2007

The Shocking Truth!

Aliens Suck the Flesh of Visiting Teachers

Hitchhiker Dangers Exposed

Invaders from Overseas Wreak Economic Havoc

Educators Going “In-seine” – Are Their Students Next??

Shady Characters Seen Throughout the Great Lakes

Today’s themes were Aquatic Invasive Species, and Fisheries Sampling and Research.

Anjanette Bowen from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kicked off the day with an introduction of a few of the more than 180 plant and animal aquatic invasive species residing in the Great Lakes region. In the following session, entitled “Don’t Stop for Hitchhikers,” Illinois Sea Grant educator Robin Goettel continued the invasives strand with an introduction to an engaging website “Nab the Aquatic Invader! Be a Sea Grant Super Sleuth.” ( Check it out! Find out more about aquatic bad guys and the ranks of investigators hot on their trails.

Trekking north to the top of Grand Lake, we stopped at a spillway to investigate aquatic life there. Brandon Schroeder, a Michigan State Fisheries Extension education agent, led us through “most excellent” activities.
Fisheries Studies
Within moments of arrival, he had turned over a seine to Bruce Szczechowski (MI), Heidi Igo (MN), and Kim Swanson (MN) with which they gathered a fine assortment of candidates for examination. The prize specimen was an 18” northern pike. Jennifer Fleck remarked, “It was so fun to play with fish again. We found a lot of turtles, frogs, and crayfish too, and a very cool, non-parasitic, fat, green-speckled leech!”

The rock hounds among us discovered more fossil treasures [again] at the site.


Just up the road from our waterside experience, we met Roger Bergstedt, USGS sea lamprey biologist, at the Hammond Bay Biological Station.
Lamprey Slide2
Roger shared research about sea lampreys: when they came into the Great Lakes, the harms they caused to fisheries, and successful efforts to limit their damage. He followed his presentation with an opportunity to get up close to these creatures. Anyone game for the experience offered a hand or forearm for sea lamprey attachment. Those suckers can really get a grip!


Fisherman Albert LaBlance told us a story about commercial fishing in Lake Huron. His family had been fishing the region since 1860, and he said that the last 15 years brought more negative changes to the area than the previous 500 years. He decried that ship carriers have brought terrible influences to the Great Lakes in the form of hitchhiking aquatic invasive species, costing millions of intervention/remediation dollars.

Albert LaBlance

Humor Corner

“What is cyanobacteria, and can I eat it?” (evaluator Howard Walters, referring to the purple bacteria found in area sinkhole settings)

“When I’m on the loose, which is often, I cause strife – loosestrife. Get it? (participant Bruce Szczechowski commenting on the invasive purple loosestrife plant)

“My wife’s never going to believe I was in Alpena – I’m so tan!” (participant Dwight Sieggreen)

“You can’t fix stupid.” (presenter Howard Walters)

post by Doug Damery, from Lake Huron Exploration WorkshopComments (0)

Lotsa Limnology

August 15, 2007

Howard Walters, our resident warm-up band (a.k.a. workshop evaluator), again brought his special humor into play, as he led us through our concept map updates. A “Howardism”: “I gotta babysit my grad assistant’s kid so he can get some work done for me.”

Experience and flavor from Jim Johnson of DNR fisheries: “Alewives are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The bottom of the food web is dropping out, and they don’t feed on benthos. They’re getting predated by the rebounding populations of salmon.” Jim shared his detailed research and extensive knowledge about the history of fisheries in the Great Lakes system with us.

Jim’s engaging lecture tripped high school teacher Jim Corcoran’s trigger, “I am very stoked to take this back to the classroom to share his knowledge with my kids! I am going to get my kids to take real-time data, crunch it, and get that “aha” experience that’s real, that’s now!”

Participant Bruce Szczechowski added, “I appreciated Jim’s vast working knowledge of the ecology of Lake Huron as well as his passion for monitoring and restoring the integrity of the watershed.”
Jim Johnson

Captain Luke, his staff, and cadets received us warmly for our second day aboard the Pride of Michigan. Gracious hosts all, we had another wonderful day on the water moving through learning stations.

Jim Lubner, of Wisconsin Sea Grant, got our hands on a PONAR benthic grab to take samples of lake bottom material for examination. He led a discussion of the possible things we could learn from the benthic surface.
Benthic Grab

After Minnesota Sea Grant’s Cindy Hagley helped us gather lake organisms with a fine net, NOAA researcher Rochelle Sturtevant nudged us past our boat-rocked queasy stomachs to view lake life through microscopes to identify specific specimens of phytoplankton and zooplankton.

2007 COSEE Great Lakes leader and Sea Grant — aaagent man (know the song?), Steve Stewart, led a session that had us eating out of his hand. We: dropped colored M & M’s overboard to note how soon color tones faded from site (color spectrum absorption), used a Secchi Disk to note water clarity, and used a thermometer to probe for a thermocline boundary.

Captain Luke provided us with background on the fine Sea Cadet program and proudly explained many of the scientific projects his student seamen have done through the past 20 years. At this moment, the Pride of Michigan crew and cadets are making its way to the Straits of Mackinac for a scientific cruise to map, in great detail, the ancient river that cut through the bottom depths there.
Pride of Michigan

In a fine display of dinner theater, the COSEE Players presented a production, “The View” starring host Baba Wawa, Zelda the Zebra Mussel, and Helga the Hydrilla. “Four stars!” (The Days Inn Dealer), a surefire Tony Award nominee (The Sea Grant Sentinel) Fintastic! (The Bay Thunderer) Unbubblelieveable! (The NOAA It All).
Lake View

Our fearless leaders bask in the success of another day.
Fearless Leaders

post by Doug Damery, from Lake Huron Exploration WorkshopComments (0)

Dive! Dive! Dive!

August 14, 2007

Ships were the order of today. Marine historian Pat Labadie shared the evolution of Great Lakes ships with us, from wooden sail schooners to wooden, iron, and steel steam bulk carriers, ever-increasing in size and carrying capacity. Wayne Lusardee, Russ Green, and Cathy Green traced the evolution of underwater archaelogy through hand-drawn outlines to sophisticated electronic and video mapping. We learned that shipwrecks occur in the context of economics, meteorology, shoreline features, bottom, and currents. Most ships have been lost as boats tried to make just one more trip before the winter season.

Time to cast off!
Dockside, Captain Luke provided an orientation about the Sea Cadet program prior to our boarding the training and research vessel, the Pride of Michigan. Roseanne Fortner outlined an onboard investigative lesson about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Testing multiple hypotheses with a variety of variables, our groups surmised several possibilities, illustrating that while science may not always provide us with definitive conclusions it may provide thoughtful explanations. We anticipated our inwater excursion ahead!

Gear up and Go!

Underway, Sea Cadets manned the ship, escorted us on tours of the ship, and answered our many questions on the way out to the Monohansett. We worked on projects along the way. Some of us simply got tuckered out.

Pride of Michigan

Go jump in a lake!
A highlight for many of us was the opportunity to snorkel at the Monohansett wreck site.


The Monohansett
The wreck site, as with so many others in the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, was remarkably preserved, due to the cold freshwater. The timbers of this 100-year-old wreck were quite sound. Since this ship burned to the waterline, what remained were the keel, boiler, and propeller.


Science on a Sphere
The evening had us admiring the Science on a Sphere exhibit, an amazing array of programs projected onto a globe to convey aspects of our planet and other spheres in our solar system.

Science on a Sphere

post by Doug Damery, from Lake Huron Exploration WorkshopComments (0)
Next Page »