Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thousands of dead loons on northern Michigan shorelines might be linked to invasive species

The rapidly changing ecology of the Great Lakes Basin, brought on in large part by non-native, invasive species, is causing devastation among Michigan's waterfowl, especially common loons.

The common loon, a beloved, iconic bird known for its eerily lonely, two-note call and its beautiful markings, suffered devastating losses along Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline this fall. Thousands of dead birds, mainly loons, washed ashore — from the Upper Peninsula down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity.

The reason for the die-off, which follows similar incidents in 2006 and 2007, isn’t fully understood. But it is suspected that it is driven by the food chain linking the loon to invasive species, specifically, the quagga mussel, the zebra mussel and the round goby.

... While the end result is a more aesthetically pleasing water column, the clearer water has allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper, causing larger and larger algae mats to flourish on the bottom. As the algae mat builds upon itself and dies, it becomes anaerobic — depleted of oxygen — and type-E botulism bacteria develops.

The Oakland Press - [includes video]
07 Jan 2012
D Gardner

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New app available to view Lake Superior shoreline

The Superior Watershed Partnership has a new app available for apple users, and it might even make a great Christmas gift.

Great Lakes Shore Viewer has high quality photography of the Great Lakes coastline. The app started off as a land use planning tool, but officials found many people from the community were using it as well. The app has GSI maps which allows you to view a shoreline's topography, soil types, coastal dunes, and more.

It's become a popular tool for tourism, habitat protection agencies, or just planning an outdoor excursion.

"People can use this to plan sort of the distance they might make on a given day or suitable place to pull in to get out of the storm, be a great asset for people planning kayaking trips are even just boaters that want to be able to relate to the shoreline," said John Becker of the Superior Watershed Partnership.

It is free and available at the app store. The SWP is planning to come out with a Android version soon.

Lake News -
25 Dec 2012