July 28, 2009
Today dawned with promise of a more relaxed pace. The day began with another fabulous breakfast by our kitchen staff. Next we worked on various projects while we waited for our turn to take the ship’s small boat, Vega, to the port at Alpena on Thunder Bay.
Upon arrival we walked a few blocks into town to the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary. There Dave took his socks off to let them dry after the wet trip over. They seem to be happy with the break from Dave as they ran off but have been sending pictures. More about Dave’s missing socks in the days to come.
At the Maritime Heritage Center we listened to Angie Bowen from the US Fish and Wildlife Service discuss aquatic invasive species. Many found the variety of aquatic invasive species surprising. A staggering average of 2 invasive species are introduced to the Great Lakes every year!! The preserved specimens that were handed around helped everyone understand distinguishing features for each. There was uncertainty about the differences between the tastes of leaches and lampreys until we learned that sea lampreys attach to cold blooded hosts while leeches only attach to warm blooded hosts. We also learned that they have teeth on their tongues!
Next Mike Wagner from MSU discussed the research that has been taking place in regard to sea lampreys and cleared up more questions about this complex creature. We learned that pheromones seem to be one of the major bases of decision making in the lives of sea lampreys (and other creatures).
Cathy Green led the group through the National Marine Sanctuary Museum for the next segment. Most of us were not aware of the shipwreck sanctuary or even the need for one. Cathy answered our many questions about the legal issues involved in protecting sunken ships and shared the history of several of the most interesting in the Thunder Bay area. One particularly interesting case involved a cargo ship that sank in the late shipping season presumably as a result of ice coverage over the ship itself. The ship can be found today with the mast still standing and hull without damage standing straight up at the bottom of Lake Huron.
Here we enjoyed a different view of the ship wreck simulation in the museum as we tunneled through the hull.
After the museum we were allowed free time in Alpena. Many of the group enjoyed dinner in a local Steak House then roamed around town until it was time to ride back to our home ship. Some activities enjoyed included a walk down the Maritime Heritage Trail, and a visit to the local Dairy Queen and Dollar General.