Lake Erie Exploration - Day 5 (Wednesday, July 22th)

July 22, 2009

A Blast from the Past

History was our main theme today as we spent the day learning about the Geology of the Great Lakes, locating and identifying fossils and hunting for ship wrecks. Sounds fun? It was!

We began our day with a lecture from Dr. Charles Herdendorf, a scientist from Ohio State University. It was difficult to pinpoint what kind of scientist he was as he was knowledgeable and experienced in geology, anthropology, ecology and even more. He provided us with an engaging lecture on the history of the formation of the Great Lakes. Among the vast amount of information we learned, he explained the five natural stages of lake formation. These stages were caused by tectonics, marine environment, streams, glaciers and coastal forces. To put our newly acquired information to life, we packed our backpacks with hammers, picks, safety goggles, and collection bags and headed off to Kelly’s Island.

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Once we arrived at Kelly’s Island Dr. Herdendorf described what fossils we would likely see as we experienced some of the best glacial grooves located at Glacial Grooves State Memorial. These were filled with hundreds of fossils. We felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to experience first hand glacial grooves. With key in hand, Dr. Herdendorf led us into the protected area of the glacier grooves so that we could observe how life might have been millions of years ago. We had fun coming with possibilities to explain what we were seeing. All of us were extremely grateful for the once in a life time experience observing these glacial grooves up close.

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Now it was time to use our hammers, picks and goggles to find our own fossils to take back and share with our students. Lots of pictures were taken of science teachers in action. Our students will be impressed when they see their teacher out in the field doing science collections. The light rain provided a perfect environment to submerse ourselves in our work. Most of us were successful in finding our prize fossil and will proudly display and share it with our students.

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One more bit of history to uncover: The sunken ship! Now it was time to put on our bathing suits, snorkels, fins and masks and look for sunken treasure. Feeling lucky after collecting fossils, we were excited to hit the water and start searching. Our readings told us that the “Adventure”, a schooner converted to a steam barge, had sunk in 1903 just off the coast of Kelly’s Island. We were provided maps of the underwater wreck. Dr. Herdendorf described to us how the map of the wreck was created and with his lead we dove in. Even though the water was a bit chilly we began our search. The wreck was found but alas the turbidity of the water made it difficult to see details of the ship. Guess we will have to try another day. But we all enjoyed our swim in Lake Erie.

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We couldn’t have asked for a better close to the day than our Great Lakes music performance. We were fortunate to have Pat Dailey, professional musician, sing many of his songs and play guitar. Pat has done much to support and spread the word of our great lakes through song. He has performed in many areas of the great lakes basin and produced a number of cds. We had been practicing all week to sing the great lakes song with him and joined in with him as he preformed the song. After the song, COSEE awarded him a plaque for his songs and dedication to Great Lakes education. He was a real inspiration to us as he shared his love of the lakes through song. Learning the history of the lakes gives us even more reason to be stewards of these Great Lakes.

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Before we could go to bed, we had one last place to visit. We stopped by the old fish hatchery in Put-in-Bay to check out their education programs. The fish hatchery is no longer hatching fish, but the Ohio Department of Natural Resources uses it to educate visitors and school groups about the fish found in the area. Visitors to the island can stop by and check out their exhibits and even go fishing off of their dock. We loved their exhibits, but there was unfortunately not enough time for us to go fishing today. We will have to save that for tomorrow when we have a visit from fish biologists.

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Did you know?

-Lake Baikal is the largest lake in the world, containing 20% of world’s fresh water
- The ship, Adventure, had its watery grave robbed of its propeller in 1964 and taken to a YMCA somewhere in Ohio to be used by its flag pole. It was later returned, 1997, to the sunken wreck by Dr. Hergendorf and his diving team.
- During the Cambrian Period North America was actually below the equator and then drifted to its current position. This explains why we found fossils of coral in the quarry and glacier grooves.

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