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Newsletter - Friday 2/10/2012


Eric Sharp: Good, bad news on lampreys

While lamprey numbers have been reduced by 90% in the other Great Lakes, they remain high in Lake Erie. Lampreys clamp onto fish, using a tongue like a file to bore into fish and live off their blood and body fluids.

Tests of chemical signals called pheromones prove they can trick sea lampreys to avoid streams that offer good spawning habitat and lure them to streams where baby lampreys won't survive.

"It's hard to see any good news when it comes to invasive species, but the sea lamprey is one case where we're winning the battle," Dr. Marc Gaden said this week during a briefing on new lamprey control efforts by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and other agencies.

That's the good news.

The not-so-good news, at least in the short run, is what the scientists learned when they tried a full-count press on the handful of rivers and creeks that were thought to produce most of the lampreys in Lake Erie.

Rescued sailor, 84, unsure of another trip

Using a map in his home in Port Clinton, Tom Corogin, 84, points Jan. 24 to an area where he was rescued in the southern Pacific Ocean.

PORT CLINTON -- Stranded on a sailboat with broken rigging and a swaying mast in the Pacific Ocean, 84-year-old Tom Corogin realized his dream of completing a solo voyage around the tip of South America was over, again.

It was his sixth attempt and one of the most difficult trips yet.

Corogin suffered an infected puncture wound to his leg and required hospital treatment in Ecuador. He sailed through a terrible storm south of Mexico and was forced to activate his emergency beacon for the first time, in remote waters about 500 miles south of Easter Island.

In the end, Corogin was rescued Jan. 3 by a Japanese cargo ship and the Chilean navy but was forced to leave his boat behind.

Corogin, a lawyer who still practices part-time, arrived back at his home along Lake Erie almost three weeks ago. He had set sail Dec. 27 from Easter Island on the last leg of his Cape Horn adventure when his rigging snapped, leaving him stranded in desolate waters.  more...

Living with Michigan's wolves

Gray wolves in the western Great Lakes were recently taken off the endangered species list. Now, the state of Michigan is responsible for managing the wolf population.

Michael Nelson is a professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University. He’s an author of a new report on people’s attitudes about wolves in Michigan. His report is based on a statewide telephone survey conducted in 2010. 

Nelson says they asked people throughout the state how they felt about the following four statements (on a five point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree):  more...

Politicians flounder while Asian carp spawn a threat

Should the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins be separated, even if the work costs as much as $9.5 billion? You bet.

Will it happen? Probably not.

A new engineering analysis shows that such a massive task could be completed for the price of some big-city road and tunnel projects. Yet it remains doubtful the Obama Administration and the President's home state of Illinois have the political will to get behind such a plan.

The study was done to light a fire under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps has given itself until 2015 to develop options for the Chicago Area Waterway System. more...

Chemical levels in Saginaw Bay fish depend on where they hang out

Male walleye in the Saginaw Bay really need to start taking a cue from their female counterparts and hang out in a better neighborhood.

A study about to be published by the Journal of Great Lakes Research found male walleye contain three times more flame retardant chemicals than females. The chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE’s), have been used in plastics, foams and fabrics as flame-retardants since the 1970’s. Animal tests suggest they could damage the liver, thyroid and brain, according to the EPA.

The reason: The males are hanging out in the wrong places.  more...

Falling overboard

Boating in cold weather can be the beginning of tragedy — if you are not prepared. I learned this the hard way on an Ozark river several winters ago. We were “roughing it” by fishing the cold water and camping on sandbars at night.

The second morning of the trip promised to be a beautiful one with a light coating of new snow and ice on cliffs that bordered the scenic river. I was clicking pictures of a beautiful ice formation when the canoe just in front of us had an accident. The man in front of the ill-fated canoe ducked under over-hanging limbs heavy with ice. He made it, but the second man panicked and grabbed the branch.

A combination of him holding the limb and the river current made the canoe go sideways and tip. River water came over the side, quickly filling and sinking the canoe. Both men helplessly floated down the river current with only their life jackets to thank for keeping them floating. We paddled quickly to catch them, but suddenly one of the men drifted into a huge brush pile and his head tipped under the surface. He was an older man and too weak to pull himself up. more...

Should hunting of sandhill cranes be allowed in Wisconsin?

Sandhill cranes take flight from a pond east of Mishicot.

With long legs trailing behind in the sky, the sandhill crane announces its arrival with a cry that hearkens back to prehistoric times.Spotted along the river or seen fishing in Fond du Lac County’s abundance of ponds and lakes, the elegant bird has a great following of local enthusiasts who turn out to count them every year. The state is home to the International Crane Foundation.

But the bird’s blissful existence may soon be disturbed by the blast of shotguns. State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, an Oconomowoc Republican and avid duck hunter, began circulating a bill last week that would require the DNR to create a sandhill season. more...

Lake St. Clair levels high now, but won't last, official says

There will be higher water levels than last year around Lake St. Clair this spring, but boaters and other water lovers shouldn't think that will last.

The lakes will be about the same depth as last year by summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts.

Boaters and anglers who might be expecting low lake levels because of the lack of snowfall will be pleasantly surprised in early spring to find the lake higher than last year.

Those higher-than-last-year levels in lakes St. Clair and Erie in spring are more of a false positive than a real promise of deeper water, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps of Engineers meteorologist. more...

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