Bon Voyage Lake Guardian 2011

July 27, 2011

After an evening of celebrating our research, learning, and community building we retired to our final night on the RV Lake Guardian. An early morning wake up call and a bit of rain hustled us along as we packed up our bags. From power cords and flash drives to microscopes and tucker trawls, we hauled everything off the boat as we made our final trip across the gang plank. Promptly at 9AM, the Lake Guardian departed with Captain Bob at the helm as they set off for Lake Michigan. The teachers and researchers cheered and applauded the crew for a spectacular trip.


The presentations of research projects took place at the Great Lakes Aquarium. We amazed ourselves by how much we had learned, and our ability to explain our results to our colleagues and scientists. Our projects reinforced the idea that science is about the process; it may not always support the expected outcomes. We learned that nearshore and offshore systems of Lake Superior are very complex. We definitely need to do more research, maybe next summer (hint, hint)?


Experiences such as these are often very powerful. It is amazing how we grew not only in science, but even more so as a very close knit group. Many feel as if we have developed life long friendships as we became more and more of a family throughout the week. We learned so much about each other and enjoyed sharing many aspects of our lives with each other. So hats off to thd COSSEE Lake Guardian Workshop 2011 and our very best to each of us on our journeys. We know we will find ways to keep in touch.


Is It Over Already??

September 5, 2006

View the Lake Superior Exploration Workshop Event Page

August 4, 2006 – Today was a day for closure and for beginnings as we wrapped up our weeklong workshop and went home with lots of new ideas for teaching about Lake Superior, the Great Lakes and the connections to oceans. Our Paddle-to-the-Sea had successfully begun a journey from western Lake Superior through the Great Lakes to the great oceans of the world.

Another morning freighter.jpg

The next planned stop for Paddle is the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Alpena, Michigan, for the Lake Huron Exploration Workshop in 2007.

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The day began at the Great Lakes Aquarium with group photos on the deck with a sunlit harbor as the backdrop. It seems that everyone had a camera and kept our volunteer photographers busy juggling equipment while repeatedly trying to capture the perfect shot.

The 2006 class.jpg

Then it was on to the classroom for presentations by teams of participants illustrating how they would put their knowledge of Lake Superior and the Great Lakes to use in the classroom.

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Connie, J, K, E presentation.jpg

There were lots of great ideas creatively presented with activities and skits. There was even a newly-minted “food web” song which had everyone harmonizing. It sounded terrific as the class musically assembled the parts – phytoplankton, zooplankton, juvenile herring and lean lake trout. At the close of the session, it was obvious that everyone had gained a great deal of new knowledge and insight, and the tools to make them come alive in the classroom.

The unquestioned highlight of the week for participants was the awarding of their Lake Superior Exploration Workshop diplomas, which were well earned.

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The day included some anxious moments as a young visitor to the Aquarium reported to us that one of the sea lampreys in an exhibit had evidently decided to flee captivity and was now writhing on the floor. The Aquarium staff was contacted and the lamprey was rescued.

Then it was time to take our leave of the workshop with lots of good-byes, promises of keeping in touch and hopes for getting together at future COSEE Great Lakes Activities. Like Paddle, we were all off on a journey through the Great Lakes to the sea with a mission to bring as many other teachers, scientists and young people with us as we can muster.

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From Pantaloons to Thongs – Your Ballast is Showing!

August 3, 2006

August 3 – Cindy gave us all a reprieve this morning. We boarded the van at 0830 for the Aquarium instead of 0800.

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We again started with a plan for the day and concept mapping

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followed by an introduction of Dr. Lucinda Johnson of the Natural Resources Research Institute. Participants opened the session with questions for Lucinda on the certainties and uncertainties of climate change.

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She gave us an excellent and well-illustrated presentation on the complexities of climate change, with understandable examples that teachers can use with elementary students. Lucinda concluded her remarks with a series of slides specifically on the potential impacts of changing climate to the Great Lakes.

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Climate change PPT.jpg

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Following yet another imaginative box lunch prepared by the UMD caterers, Cindy put on her croupier’s hat and orchestrated a competitive round of the watershed game, with candy as the currency.

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Then Matt TenEyck, UW-Superior, clearly connected our Great Lakes to the oceans of the world with an explanation of invasive species, shipping and ballast water.

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Connecting Oceans To The Great Lakes PPT.jpg

Connecting Oceans To The Great Lakes PPT 1.jpg

At 2:30 pm (can that really be right) we concluded the formal portion of the day, and sent the participants off to prepare for group presentations tomorrow.

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A C E R prepare.jpg

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They’ve been so busy that the blog fodder I’ve received has been sparse, so instead I offer the following:

Our Duluth heat wave seems to have finally broken, but not before some bizarre occurrences. In fact, Bruce Munson reported that it was so hot earlier this week that he had seen a squirrel in the backyard dipping its nuts in ice.

And while participants worked late into the night preparing for Friday, our fearless leaders looked for direction…

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Walking on Water — It was in seine!

August 2 – Since I know that you’re all dying to know the answer to yesterday’s groaner, I’ll put it right up front. You call that person an ex-streamist!

Today’s scientific team was made up of Drs. Marty and Nancy Auer, who joined us for a second day, and Dr. Anett Trebitz of the USEPA, a wetlands specialist. We started the morning, as usual, with a plan for the day, context mapping, and questions for our scientists based on scientific readings done by the participants.

Morning work

Concept mapping discussion

And then we took a PowerPoint journey through Lake Superior wetlands guided by Anett. That was followed by Nancy’s description of the Lake Sturgeon, its habitat and ecology.

Anett wetland talk

Nancy Auer presentation

Nancy Auer sturgeon ppt

Following lunch at the Aquarium, we boarded a motor coach, with Al as our pilot, and headed back to Wisconsin (it’s really where all the good stuff is) Point to wade in a wetland on Allouez Bay and try our hand at seining for fish in several types of habitat. Teams of participants competed to see which team could catch the most fish, the biggest variety, the most unique, etc. There were obvious differences in populations based on habitat, and each team was very successful at capturing fish.

From Allouez Bay we headed deeper into Wisconsin and set our course for Bark Bay, a large complex of coastal barrier spit, lagoon, springs, and wetlands occupying an embayment between two rocky headlands. The highlight here was the opportunity to literally walk on top of the water over a quaking coastal bog of sphagnum moss. We were awed by pitcher plants and the tiny, delicate sundew plants which were everywhere. Randy gave us the following memory device for some of the plants we were seeing:
Sedges have edges;
Rushes are round;
And grasses have joints,
When the narcs aren’t around.

Back on the bus, we headed over the backbone of the Bayfield peninsula to Washburn and the Sioux River Slough. Standing just off the main road, we were able to see a complex of wetlands that clearly demonstrated that many differengt habitat types can occur in a very short span. Not all wetlands are the same. A walk to Bayview Beach provided another opportunity to seine, and many people also took advantage of the warm water for a pre-dinner swim.

We boarded the bus again for Bayfield and a wonderful dinner of fresh lake trout or whitefish at Gruenke’s, one of the historically significant establishments in quaint Bayfield. With our hunger satisfied, we headed into the sunset and back to UM-Duluth.

Our Wednesday in pictures…

Working hard over lunch

Working lunch

Brian’s agates. Thanks, Brian!!

Brian's agates

We’re off to seine

Boarding the bus for field work

Checking our Visitor’s Guide…

Field guide.jpg

Nancy and Anett show us how it’s done

Seining instructions

We’re all eager to get started

Seining introduction

The seining begins

Wetlands seining 1

Almost done

Wetlands seining 2

What did we catch??

Wetland seining 3

Seining amid the rushes

Seining among the rushes

We caught a Northern Pike!! Or is it a Muskie?!?

Results of seining amid rushes

Anett leads us at Bark Bay Slough

Anett leads us at Bark Bay Slough

Anett, Ann and Cindy at Bark Bay Slough

Bog instruction

“You are here”

You are here

Marty and Nancy Auer on the bog at Bark Bay Slough

Marty and Nancy Auer on the bog

Pitcher plant

Pitcher plant

Sundew up close

Sundew closeup

Aquatic Invasive Species warning sign at Bark Bay Slough

AIS sign at Bark Bay Slough

Brian and Paula share a find

Sharing a find

The “Blues” brothers - Steve and Jim coordinate their look

Blues brothers

Seining on Bayview Beach

Seining on Bayview Beach

What did we find?

Beach seining catch

Some of our group emerge from the water between Bayview Beach and Madeline Island

Seining and Madeline Island

Dinner at Gruenke’s

Dinner at Gruenke's

Brian finds his brother’s old 45 on the wall.

Brian found his brother's 45

Cindy and Kelly broke the lock on the door of the ladies room!

Lock breakers

Benthos, Boats and Barbeque – A Day of Busy B’s

August 2, 2006

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.

Morning class

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.

Marty Auer presentation

LS Food web

LS zooplankton

LS Benthos

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

Eager van riders

Morning groups get down to work

Morning group at work

Boarding the L.L. Smith Jr.

Boarding the Smith

Captain Dan at the helm

Captain Dan at the helm

Captain Dan’s museum-quality helm. What a wheel!! Look at that telegraph!!

Captain Dan's helm

Playing chicken on Lake Superior. Do not try this at home.

Playing chicken

Jamie at work in the plankton lab

Plankton lab

Phytoplankton microvideo system. Very cool.

Phytoplankton microvideo system

Phytoplankton on display


Same phytoplankton, up close this time

Phytoplankton higher magnification

Nancy Auer introduces us to FISH GUTS!!

Nancy Auer and lake herring

Fish Guts up close with Erica and Paula

Fish guts with Erica and Paula

Steve Lozano works with Kelly to sort benthic samples

Sorting benthic samples

Hard at work on the aft deck

At work on the aft deck

Connie’s our new Captain?

Captain Connie

Diane’s fish is on this bridge!!!! It’s the big one. The local custom remains a mystery.

Diane's fish on bridge

Zebra mussels encrusing a native clam. Not good.

ZM on clam

Did Cindy and Steve find Paddle??

Did we find Paddle

Possible Paddle up close

Possible Paddle

A ship - research, education or otherwise - runs on its stomach

Smith kitchen

Spirit Island

Spirit Island

Lord Jim. Captain Dan wannabe.

Lord Jim

This is tough work!

Randy on watch

I had a good day

I had a good day

Marty Auer asking Captain Dan when we can go out on the L.L. Smith, Jr. again.

Captain Dan and Marty Auer

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