Monday, December 5, 2016

Oil and Water Do not mix

Oil Pipelines that threaten our drinking water  click the link

An oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac would be a disaster for our fresh water and for the fish and wild life around the Great Lakes. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Living Waters

            The north woods ring—the waters gather dripping from the tops of pines, running, running, running over ancient rocks.  The veerys trill up and down the scales, the warblers chime their notes through still bare twigs and the water runs, it runs down to Lake Superior swirling downstream, plunging over waterfalls just freed from ice curtains.  Curious deer come to drink from the pool below lifting their heads, standing motionless to sense the air.  Is it bear?  Wolf? Lynx?

            Sun dapples down through bare forest trees—sun streams, the ground steams, wet leaves tilt insisting on light, thrust new spikes.  Water flows through mobile root hairs, roots, stems, vaporizes into air.

Wild geese weave the wind, skid along black marsh water among tangles of cat tail.  Further downstream waves curl onto a rock shore polishing stones to oval and the small stones roll chinking and chunking.  They assume their flat round shapes over years of grinding, finding their ease in the wave rhythms, rolling rolling, rolling.  While caps bubble foam and the jade water is a dancing goddess in the middle distance between shore and horizon.

Children arrive to pick up fossils of ancient coral and to find stones to skip on a quiet day.  They chase sea gulls and try to become airborne by leaping and spreading their arms.  Cormorants and sooty terns rise and cleave the air.  The red cheeked kids leap in the early spring breezes, their knuckles chapped.  What do they care?

The bones of whales and sailors roll in the currents—some finding their way out to sea, some becoming, becoming, becoming a diatom’s shining, becoming the bones of an emerald shiner, becoming limestone shale in the loving exchange between the living and the living.  The islands of Lake Superior bear greenstones and jewel like snakes.  Sturgeon and trout spawn leaving pearls and coral in the crevices of rocks.  A moose stands chin deep in and island lake.  The islands of Lake Superior are quiet, remote and cold, bereft of copper, littered with bones.

Curled underground, water drawn up through squeaky pumps splashes into enamel buckets—water clear and cold and tasting of iron.  The iron flows through the veins of the moose and in the red cheeked children.

Loons quiver their greetings and as twilight falls, bullfrogs groan their love songs—they bellow all night long.  I lay awake listening to the water lapping the night and its creatures.
                                                                   --Barbara Spring

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pacific Salmon in the Great Lakes


   Pacific Salmon Spawning
Lattices of salmon ribs litter the banks of a stream. On cold autumn nights, frost flowers bloom reflecting star light. The stream babbles and unintelligible song as it rushes westward. It is the salmons’ place to be born, to spawn; it is their place to disintegrate and die. Salmon are anadromous fish, fish evolved to follow an elegant rhythm of always returning to their birth stream to spawn after maturing in a saltwater or sweet water seas.
For male and female salmon alike, the imprint of place is their obsession. As smolts they burst from their transparent eggs still wearing a yolk sac on their bulging bellies. Like their ancient ancestors who breathed glacial melt water through their gills, the newborns streak down stream to the freedom of the great inland sweet water seas known as the Great Lakes. In jade green waters they feed their voracious dream until their bodies grow heavy with it—until they resemble silver purses stuffed with treasure: slick coral beads and pearly white milt.
Summer sun dazzles down through the thermoclines—the layers of warm, cool, cold water—where it enters through the fishes’ pineal eyes—triangles on top of their heads—giving them sure knowledge of their place in the larger scheme of things. They bide their time drifting in schools, fanning their tails in repose, gorging on small fish. They dream of their place where clear water chortles over quartz and granite under shifting shadows of white pine and tamarack. It is their place and as their urgent need to return gathers force under a moon that grows heavy on the horizon, a moon the color of salmon eggs, a moon that must change to bone white, the salmon mill about in the harbor.
The fishes’ bellies grow heavy as the harvest moon. The dream becomes reality as celestial cues, the sun, the moon, the stars enter each cellule and each dancing atom of their bodies. Then they begin. The fish return to their stream and nothing will stop them: they ignore hunger, snares, treble hooks. On their silvery sides their lateral lines carry everything they need to know; their maps and compasses embedded in the circuitry of their bodies…the hereditary wisdom of their species carried in a network of circuits from pineal to tail. It is a sure knowledge of the west Michigan river system linked to the Great Lakes, or in other places, other river systems and other fresh or salt water oceans. It is also the wisdom of the constellations and the way their light glaces from silvery skinned fish, sparkling a wisdom older than mankind. To a salmon obsessed with its sense of place, failure means nothing. They defy high dams, leaping, leaping, leaping again and again until they hurl themselves over the top.
Home at last, the female hollows out a nest on the stream bed with her tail then cascades hundreds of coral bead like eggs into it. The male waits driving away his rivals with fierce charges. It is time. The male salmon releases a small galaxy of milt that will begin the life/death cycle again. Male and female have spent their silver purses in the stream. They are finished. In the next few days their flesh will fall away while they linger, easy prey for the raccoons, bears, ospreys and eagles. With their bones picked clean and their young curled in sleep on the stream bed, the transformation begins again. An osprey shadow glides over the shining stream. The sun rises as the moon glows faintly in the West.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Nuclear Power Plants on the Great Lakes

Here is an excerpt from my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes:
Plutonium, the most toxic substance known, is a by-product of
nuclear power plants. It is extremely hazardous because of its high
radioactivity: for half of its quantity to decay, it takes 24,360 years.
Our aging Nuclear Power Plants on the Great Lakes presently have
nowhere to store plutonium except on their property.
On the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant property on the shore of
Lake Michigan near South Haven, eight 100 ton casks stand on a
concrete slab only 150 feet from the waters of Lake Michigan.
The 16½ foot high casks are eleven feet in diameter and weigh
100 tons. They consist of a steel basket encased in 29 inches of
concrete and stand on a concrete slab. Palisades may eventually have
25 casks. Plutonium is so toxic that it could mean an end to life as
we know it in the Great Lakes region. Low-level radionuclides like
tritium escape into the ecosystem from these plants and like other
toxins, radioactivity magnifies through food chains. The nuclear
power plants are aging and must be phased out. Their radioactive
wastes pose an urgent problem that will have to be solved soon. No
one has solved the problem of how to store plutonium safely.

 photo of Palisades showing storage casks.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lake Huron's Whitefish

By Ian Wendrow
Lake Huron whitefish are suffering from ecosystem changes caused by invasive quagga and zebra mussels, according to a new study.
“It’s the same decline in whitefish as has been found previously in the other Great Lakes where the mussels become established,” Jenilee Gobin, a co-author of the report from
Trent University in Ontario, explained in an email.
Other emerging research shows the source of food for the whitefish in these locations

has changed because of the mussels.
Gobin and her team proved that Lake Huron is going through what researchers have been seeing in the other Great Lakes for years: invasive species like the zebra and quagga mussels working in tandem with other key events to contribute to a decline in profitable fish species, including whitefish.
“Our study represents the first that we are aware of to build a life history simulation model that explicitly addresses how the ecosystem changes have impacted harvest of a Great Lakes population of lake whitefish,” Gobin said.
These ecosystem changes have been ongoing for several decades. The study found that whitefish growth and recruitment in Lake Huron may have been reduced by up to 50 percent since the 1990s.
The study doesn’t say that the mussels are the only culprits. The invasive spiny water flea holds a portion of the blame for Lake Huron’s recent environmental mutations, according to the study.
But much of it ties back to the mussels, starting with the near-complete disappearance of alewives in 2003, said David Fielder, a fisheries biologist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s Alpena Fisheries Research Center.
Alewives are small fish that are an important food source for larger fish such as Chinook salmon or lake whitefish within Lake Huron.
Those fish suffered when the mussels ate up the diporeia, a tiny macroinvertebrate that was an important source of food for the alewives that these larger fish ate.
Diporeia populations diminished significantly with the arrival of the mussels. Both the mussels and the diporeia are filter feeders, which most fishery researchers argue led to a competition for food between the two.
The mussels won that competition.
Another mussel-related food chain alteration may have harmed recruitment, or the number of new whitefish added to the population each year, Fielder said.
“Some other recent research has illustrated that part of the food web changes has included less nearshore productivity, at least in the form of zooplankton,” he said.
Zooplankton are microscopic organisms that are food for newly hatched fish. However, zooplankton have to eat as well. Their food is phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that feed through photosynthesis like plants.
“We used to see nice blooms of zooplankton in the spring just as fish were hatching, but they have disappeared in recent years, Fielder said. Researchers theorize that the phytoplankton that zooplankton eat have been filtered out by the abundant mussels.
“So without ample spring zooplankton, newly hatched whitefish quickly starve and never produce much of a year class,” he said.
The Ontario study acknowledges Fielder’s assessment in their research, while also pointing a finger at the predacious spiny water flea as another reason for zooplankton decline, thus further limiting food supply for larval fish.
In spite of these observed changes, not all fish sellers and anglers see the situation the same way.
“Whitefish produce lots of eggs and their survival rate is high,” said Mike Donlan, a fourth-generation fishmonger and general manager at Donlan’s Fish and Seafood in Flint, Michigan.
Donlan doesn’t exclusively stock from Lake Huron, his supply comes from all over the Great Lakes. Like most other species of fish, supply changes year to year, Donlan said. This year has been a trying year when it came to whitefish.
“There hasn’t been as much availability as prior years. For instance this year it was a real, real hot summer,” he said.
In hotter temperatures, whitefish and other species will migratei nto deeper water where it’s cooler, which puts them out of range of most commercial fishing boats.
“Sometimes the fish are not where the fishermen want them to be,” Donlan said.
Looking long term, however, Donlan says he’s unconcerned by the findings in the study
“We haven’t heard of anything mentioned that there’s an alert that we’re gonna run out of white fish in the Great Lakes.”
Jerry and David Serafin, the owners of Pinconning, Michigan’s, Serafin Fishery, daid they are incredulous about a whitefish decline in Lake Huron.
“They’re in better shape than they were a few years ago,” Jerry Serafin said.
DNR fishery researchers took some of Serafin’s whitefish to assess the health of the population last fall. According to what they told Serafin, his whitefish had significantly higher fat content than 10, 15 years ago.
David Serafin says he is more concerned about the planting of lake trout and the ever- growing walleye population.
“My concern with the whitefish is that the DNR want to plant herring in Lake Huron to feed the walleyes,” David Serafin said.
“Well walleyes eat whitefish, they eat anything. They’re cannibals, they eat each other, and these things are so overpopulated that we catch a lot of whitefish but there’s gonna come a time when the population goes down,” he said.
While the causes of and proposed solutions to these fishery population changes remain varied, Gobin said he’s certain on one point:
“What is clear is that we need to continue to study and monitor these valuable populations to ensure that there is good quality data on which to base management decisions and that we are harvesting within the safe biological limits that are appropriate for the present set of environmental conditions.”

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Coping With Climate Change

Climate Change: Coping Strategies  click the link. 

 The time is over due for Climate Change.  It is a global problem especially for the U.S. China and Europe--the countries that contribute to it the most.