Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lake Erie's algae outbreak taking toll on fish

Researchers who study Lake Erie think toxic algae blooms that have fouled the water in recent years will continue to cause drops in the number of walleye and perch in the lake.

That could deal a big economic blow to northern Ohio towns along Lake Erie that depend on tourists who come to catch the prized sport fish.

...The algae bloom this summer in Lake Erie, the shallowest and warmest of the lakes, was worse this summer than any time in recorded history, the report said.

Middletown Journal -www.middletown.com
13 Nov 2011
Location: Lake Erie, Ohio, USA

Monday, October 31, 2011

News of Possible Botulism Outbreak in Great Lakes Region

What's killing the birds in Georgian Bay?

The beaches along scenic Georgian Bay are littered with thousands of dead birds – that Federal and provincial officials believe the cause of the death is a severe form of botulism, apparently from the birds eating dead fish.

To find out more about botulism, we spoke to Doug Campbell, a Pathologist with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre at the University of Guelph, about how the disease grows, affects birds and fish, and whether human populations have anything to worry about.

Is botulism that is killing the birds and fish in Georgian Bay?

No it’s not confirmed at this time but it’s strongly suspected.

Why is botulism suspected in this case?

For a couple of reasons I guess. The first is that this botulism is a repeated event on the lower great lakes. At this time of year, since 1998, there is almost invariably been one or more botulism mortality events occurring. So the geographical location is new but the range of the species involved and the pattern of events, the timing of it, is fairly typical with what we’ve come to expect with botulism.

The other reason is that there is probably a shortage of other candidate explanations. I’ve had the opportunity to look at a few birds from this occurrence at Wasaga Beach over the last month because it has been sort of building a long period of time and so far we’ve not discovered any evidence of any other disease in these birds. With something like this we do try and make sure that we’re not missing something else rather than just assume it is botulism but the probability is that it will turn out to be Type E botulism.

So Georgian Bay is a new location? What could contribute to the botulism moving there?

We first saw type E botulism here in Canada in 1998. The disease had previously occurred on the American side of the great lakes as far back, that we know of at least, in the early 1960s. Why the disease comes and goes isn’t really known because it was quite an important disease on Lake Michigan and the American side of Lake Huron and even up into superior into the 1960s and then completely disappeared for twenty years. And then it reappeared in Lake Michigan in the 1980s and again after that, it disappeared.

As I said, we first saw it in south-eastern Lake Huron, down near the provincial park in 1998. Following that it moved eastward, south and eastward into Lake Erie and then eastward into Lake Ontario until it was seen down in the very eastern end of Lake Ontario. On Lake Huron, we really hadn’t seen much north of Kincardine until just a couple of years ago and over the last couple of years, we’ve seen some cases up and over the tip of the Bruce peninsula. So this occurrence in Wasaga beach area, I guess you could say is a natural, a logical eastward extension of where we have seen it before.

Global Toronto
Photo courtesy of Global Toronto
24 Oct 2011
James Armstrong

Location: Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada


More News Articles

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Upcoming presentation at the 7th Biennial State of Lake Michigan and the 11th Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Conference

September 26-28, 2011 at the Stardust Event Center and BlueChip Hotel in Michigan City, Indiana

Click here for more information about the conference.

The WDIN will be presenting about the GLRI-WHER application at this upcoming meeting!  If you are planning to attend, be sure to attend the Waterborne Toxins and Stressors session from 1:45 --3:15 pm on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.

In addition to learning about the GLRI-WHER application and how you can get involved, you can also pick up materials for distribution such as the fact sheet, fliers for kiosks or bulletin boards, or handy business cards to keep in your wallet to remember where to go to report!

We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to set up an account

Do you want to get involved?  Follow these simple steps to create and confirm an account in GLRI-WHER.

  1. Go to http://glri.wher.org/users/add
  2. Enter the required fields and optional fields where you like
  3. If you're signing up for a volunteer group, check the box next to the group name.  If you're just joining as an individual, you can skip this step.
  4. Click the Save button to save your account details.
  5. Go check your email!  You should receive an email from botnet@wdin.org with a link to click to confirm your account.  

Need some troubleshooting help?
If the confirmation email never arrives, email us at botnet@wdin.org to help get your account activated.  Sometimes your email spam folder is routed important messages on accident; check in this folder if your email provider auto-filters your spam.

RSS Feeds

If you're interested in keeping up to date with what is being reported in GLRI-WHER, users can follow the feeds available or subscribe to daily email notices of events and animals being reported in GLRI-WHER.

See the Feeds page on this blog to learn more about the feeds offered. 

Want to know more information about the information you're seeing?  Here are the descriptions of each piece of information in the feed.

Events feed:

Sampling Event ID:  This is the GLRI-WHER system's own unique identifier given to the event record.

State/Admin Unit (e.g. US State or Canadian Province): The state or the administrative unit where the event was reported to be located

Country: The country where the event was reported to be located

US County: The US County (if applicable) where the event was reported to be located

Latitude, Longitude:  Depending on the type of event (single point observation, pre-defined route, or a route you create), the latitude and longitude will display the either the exact location where the event was reported, or the starting point for events reported along routes.

Zebra mussels present on shore:  If the user marks the checkbox which says they observed zebra mussels on shore, the feed would display this comment.

Quagga mussels present on shore:  If the user marks the checkbox which says they observed quagga mussels on shore, the feed would display this comment.

Cladophora present on shore:  If the user marks the checkbox which says they observed cladophora on the beach/shore, this comment would display.

Chara present: If the user marks the checkbox which says they observed chara on the beach/shore, this comment would display.

Recent Storm event:  If the user marks the checkbox which says they observed recent storm events in the area, this comment would display.

Group:  If the user belongs to a volunteer group and this data was reported as collected for that group, this field would indicate the originating group.

Information specific to the Animals observed feed:

Species:  The indicated species information will be included.

Total # Involved:  If available, the total number of animals observed of the species indicated

Total Sick/Injured:  If available, the total number of animals injured/sick of this species

Is Sick/Injured an estimate?  If the user checks a checkbox indicating their number for injured/sick is an estimate, this would say so.

Total Dead: If available, the total number of dead animals of the species indicated

Is Dead an estimate?  If the user checks a checkbox indicating their number for dead is an estimate, this would say so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

GLRI-WHER open for data entry!

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiaitive Wildlife Health Event Reporter (GLRI-WHER) application is now available for public use at http://glri.wher.org/!

With support from a grant from the GLRI at EPA, the Wildlife Data Integration Network (WDIN, formerly known as the Wildlife Disease Information Node), a partnership between the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and the UW Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, has launched a system for reporting wildlife health and algal bloom events observed around the Great Lakes. This new citizen science application is available online at http://glri.wher.org/.

Injured or dead wildlife, as well as evidence of algal blooms, can be an indication that an area is being
affected by a Botulism outbreak. Botulism Type C has been known to cause extensive waterfowl mortality in the western United States since the early 1900s. Botulism Type E’s appearance in the Great Lakes began in the early 1960s in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Over the years, incidences of botulism in the Great Lakes has increased steadily, and in the 1998-2001 period was responsible for the deaths of thousands of birds in Lakes Huron and Erie. Scientists working in state, federal and non-profit agencies are looking for your help to identify events that could be important in research on Avian Botulism and protecting waterfowl from this disease.

For Great Lakes Enthusiastic Citizens
Provides a simple mechanism for noting events observed at a specific place, on a regularly walked route,
or a route you create. Users can sign up for an account and begin reporting any observations of sick, injured or dead birds, algal blooms, and other environmental observations noted around the Great Lakes.

Users can also attach digital photographs of their observations with their sightings.  Photographs of animals involved in the observed event or of the general area around the event are all welcome.

Volunteer Coordinators
In addition to offering a place for public individuals to enter animal and algal bloom observations, GLRI-WHER was also designed to be an online solution for data collection for volunteer groups doing periodic monitoring and surveillance on Great Lakes shorelines.

With the input of members from the Botulism Coordination Network organized by the EPA, GLRI-WHER’s online form was designed to specifically meet the data collection needs of any organized Great Lakes volunteer group. To begin using GLRI-WHER, volunteer coordinators need only request that their organization name be added to the established list within the application. 

Additional functions available to coordinators include a mechanism for approving membership requests, user management, adding pre-defined route details, and more.

Once data are entered, they are available for review in reports, maps and querying tools. Anyone can sign up to receive daily email alerts from the site or grab the URL for a GeoRSS feed to plug into their own feed readers to stay up to date as reports are made.

Coordinators: If your volunteer network would like to utilize the toolset for reporting, get in touch! Training assistance is available.

Citizen Enthusiast: If you want to start reporting as an individual, sign up at http://glri.wher.org/!

This application is a beta version, so if you encounter any problems let us know! You can also share your feedback with us at botnet@wdin.org