Friday, July 31, 2009

Sand Sculpture Tournament

I took this photo during a sand sculpture building contest. Some of the entries such as this fancy castle were truly works of art.

People worked in groups and showed their creativity and then others came to admire what they had done.

Building sand sculptures is a green activity. It uses no gas or oil. All that's needed is a bucket and shovel and whatever sand shaping tools one may choose.

Read more about sand and sand dunes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. The book is available at, Barnes & Noble and many other stores such as the Bookman, and Marine Tech in Grand Haven.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Summer on the Great Lakes

Summer with its blueberries, freshly caught fish and cool lake breezes is wonderful on the Great Lakes. Pictured is the light house at the harbor where the Grand River runs into Lake Michigan.

Boaters, kite boarders, kite flyers, skim boarders, surf boarders and all sorts of sand castle builders are enjoying the day that melts into a molten sunset. I can hear the squeaky voices of seagulls, the sounds of waves and the high pitched sound of sand underfoot. Some have reeled in big fish from the pier and from boats.

Read more about the freshwater seas in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. Call the publisher at 1-301-695-1707.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Environmental Success Story

The American bald eagle was nearly wiped out by DDT and like pesticides that were used after World War II. Since these poisons take many years to break down, they were caught up in Great Lakes food webs and affected the fish eating birds such as the eagles.

The eagles are higher on the food pyramid than humans since they eat only fish and meat, but fish eating humans were also being poisoned by these insecticides.

My community was the first to ban DDT that was used to control the Dutch elm beetle in the park in front of our house. My husband and I formed a committee to get it stopped and after this was accomplished, we joined others to form the Michigan Pesticides Council that met at MSU. This was a grass roots movement and it was part of a national movement.

As a result of this work, the eagles have returned to the Great Lakes as well as peregrine falcons and ospreys. Read more about this in The Dynamic Great Lakes
This book is available online at, Barnes & Noble and many other stores.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Charlevoix on Lake Michigan

Just returned from a visit to Charlevoix in northern Michigan. The boaters and tourists are out enjoying the beautiful city. We enjoyed strolling around in very fine weather but returned in a rain storm.

Read about the Great Lakes and what is found in and around them in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes

There is a special price online for the book at Publish America. The book is also available with a look inside feature on and Barnes & Noble.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Invasive Species in the Great Lakes

If you are fishing and catch a goby, do not throw it back. These prolific fish do not belong in the Great Lakes and they are throwing the ecosystem off balance. So the best thing to do is to dispose of the fish so it will not multiply.

To learn about how invasive species entered the Great Lakes, read The Dynamic Great Lakes. It is available at Barnes and Noble ( and many other online stores.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lake Superior

2009 Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior Michigan

Taking a boat trip, kayaking or canoeing along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior Michigan is a great way to enjoy beauty. Munising, Michigan is the place. There are hiking trails that end at delightful waterfalls.

There are beaches that are wonderful places to find agates. Some of the oldest rocks in the world are found on the shores of Lake Superior. There are also great places to fish.

More information about the Great Lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dave Dempsey Interviews Barbara Spring

The Dynamic Great Lakes: an Interview with the author, Barbara Spring, by Dave Dempsey

June 2002 as published in the Michigan Environmental Report, vol 20, number 3

What prompted you to write The Dynamic Great Lakes?

I was inspired by a speech I heard while at a writer's conference in Aspen, Colorado. N. Scott Momaday, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The House Made of Dawn, gave a speech on the importance of landscape. When I came home, it occurred to me that my landscape is a waterscape--the Great Lakes system. With this thought, I began to work on The Dynamic Great Lakes. The importance of the Great Lakes is not always appreciated. I wanted people to appreciate them.

Who is the intended audience for the book and who might enjoy reading it?

I wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes with a general audience in mind. I spent a lot of time searching for and up-to-date book about the Great Lakes and I could not find one. I believe my book is important because it shows the Great Lakes and their connecting waters in relation to each other; it shows the lakes in relation to their unique dunes and wetlands and to their biota. The Great Lakes are about 20% of all the fresh surface water on this planet. I wanted to make people aware of how precious this freshwater is and how vulnerable. I want people to feel concerned about how these lakes and their web of life is faring.

Do you think Michiganians generally are knowledgeable about the Great Lakes?

Someone who has lived by Lake Michigan all of his life read my book and said, "I have been taking these lakes for granted." I believe that people in Michigan and the other Great Lakes states and provinces need to know more about the Great Lakes so they will be in a better position to make good decisions about them. The Great Lakes will become more and more important as our population grows and the people are asked to vote for candidates who will either understand the issues and care for the lakes with future generations in mind, or those who would exploit them for short term gains.

What are your earliest memories of the Lakes?

My earliest memory of the Great Lakes--I must have been about 7--was a trip with my family around Lake Superior's rocky shore. I still remember how awed I felt when I first viewed the largest of the Great Lakes and felt its icy water. My father woke us all up one morning proudly displaying a string of brook trout he had caught from a tributary stream to Lake Superior. We had them for breakfast. Just delicious.

If you were czar(ina) of the Great Lakes, what is the single most important thing you would do for them?

I would develop energy sources that do not threaten the environment. I would phase out the 37 aging nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes watershed and find a way to store atomic wastes in a place where it has no chance of getting into water. That would be my decree. I would hire the best minds to work on this daunting problem and I would tell them to do it will all haste.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

King salmon also called Chinook salmon

Pacific salmon planted in the freshwater Great Lakes to control invasive species such as the alewife, are a boon to sports fishers. These beautiful salmon are being caught as I write this.

Read about the fishes of the Great Lakes, both endemic, accidental and planted in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes. The book is available at, and the publisher at 1-301-695-1707.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lake Michigan Sunset

Lake Michigan sunsets are exquisite. The sailboats head for the harbor, fishing boats head for home and peace descends upon the lake.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

rip currents

Rip currents result when water rushes offshore in a narrow channel. These currents can extend 1,000 feet, reach 100 feet in width, and travel up to 5 mph. This is slower than you can run, but faster than you or even an Olympic swimmer can swim. They are most prevalent after storms; some lasting a few hours, some (especially on the oceans) permanently.

■Don't fight the current.

■Swim parallel to the shore to get out of the current. Rip currents are rarely more than 30 feet wide.

■If you can't escape, float calmly until the current dissipates, then swim diagonally back to the shore.

■If you need help, call or wave for assistance.

Recognize a Rip Current:

■Murky water from sediments stirred up by the current.

■Different waves - larger and choppier.

■Foam or objects that move steadily offshore.

source: Sea Grant

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This is the biggest brown trout I've seen for a long time. It was caught in a tributary to Lake Michigan. The boys could be Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.
The fishing in the Great Lakes depends on luck, as fishing does everywhere.
The types of fish in the Great Lakes are explained in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The five Great Lakes must be seen to be believed. When astronauts took this photo of them, we finally got an idea of their majesty. They flow following gravity toward the Atlantic where the freshwater flows into salt in the St. Lawrence estuary.
The Dynamic Great Lakes is not about a single lake but about a system and its connecting waters.
It is about the fish and other biota in these lakes.
It is about what we might do to preserve these lakes, but the first step is to learn about them. Some have called the book empowering. It is available from, Canadians may order from as well as several on line stores and from the publisher at 1-301-695-1707.
The book has been critically acclaimed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Fun

It's a perfect day for the beach, sunny, and the kids are having a blast. You may see sand castles, boogie boards and swimmers. Watch for the flags. Green means it's safe to go in the water. Yellow means caution and red means don't even think about it. Disregarding water conditions leads to trouble.

So have fun, but be safe.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes, the fish, both endemic and planted are described. Pictured is a king or Chinook salmon. These Pacific salmon were planted to control the alewife, a fish that reached the Great Lakes accidentally.
Now people who love to fish enjoy catching the bounty of these large salmon.
The Dynamic Great Lakes is available from the publisher in both softcover and hardcover editions. call 1-301-695-1707.
Otherwise, the book is available at and in softcover editions. It's a good book to throw in your duffel bag for reference to the Great Lakes.