Book Review | Perimeter : A Contemporary Portrait of Lake Michigan by Kevin J. Miyazaki

book cover Perimeter by Kevin J. MiyazakiI wish I had been fortunate enough to see the exhibit at Marquette’s Haggerty Museum of Art that is encompassed by Kevin J. Miyazaki’s artistic book Perimeter. As Miyazaki traveled nearly 1800 miles around the shores of Lake Michigan through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, he photographed the people he encountered and the Lake along the way. The book is a compilation of the waterscapes, the portraits and the stories behind them. From surfers and scientists to fishermen and families, portraits and prose highlight both the differences and similarities of those who’ve made Lake Michigan a part of their lives.

This was an impressive book, and as I mentioned, it would have been great to see the exhibit. The portable photo booth that Miyazaki constructed from PVC pipe and other supplies provided for exceedingly crisp and clean images. I read a color copy of the ebook and am sure the printed book would prove even more intriguing. Hearing so many different perspectives of the value of the Lake lends the reader increased awareness about what an important resource it is. If you love Lake Michigan or haven’t yet had a chance to visit, or if you’re just a fan of great photos, check out Perimeter from a library near you.

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Invasives at Fault for Great Lakes Salmon Dearth?

Four decades ago, salmon were added to the Great Lakes by Michigan fisheries biologists. In the following years, the fishing industry flourished as did the salmon. Cars hauling boats would be lined up with anglers just waiting to get out in the lakes and catch fish. But now, things have changed.

The invasive mussels came in and altered the food web. Alewives, one of salmons’ favorite fish to feed on, have mostly disappeared from the Great Lakes. Without enough time, the salmon were unable to adapt their diet as their food supply disappeared. Walleye, a native species, have returned to the lakes and are also responsible for eating the salmon. Last fall the Lake Michigan salmon never showed up at spawning time. Things aren’t looking good for the salmon.

Listen to the NPR Story for more details.

Photo credit: Coho salmon – muskegon-mi.gov

Update: Lake Michigan Water Trail

A draft plan has been compiled for the Lake Michigan Water Trail which would span approximately 450 miles of Wisconsin shoreline and increase public lakefront landholding while providing information on access points, safety considerations, activities, and points of interest to recreationists. Public open houses on the plan are being held to disseminate and review information dealing with public access points needed to close gaps in the trail. Background information will be provided by staff from the Wisconsin State Park System, National Park Service and the Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission.

A meeting will be held in Milwaukee at the Bay View Public Library on April 28th and in Green Bay at the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission Office on May 3rd. Interested individuals are encouraged to attend to learn more about the project and share their knowledge or comments. For further details, see the DNR release. See our previous blog post for background information.

Photo credit: John Browning

VHS: The Fish Disease, Not Your Old Videotapes

Imagine a type of Ebola, just for fish. Bulging eyes, hemorrhaging in the muscle tissue and internal organs, and pale organs are some of the clinical symptoms of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), a deadly fish virus, which was confirmed to be present in Milwaukee waters last month. Since the virus affected thousands of gizzard shad in Lake Michigan, the DNR has been taking steps to prevent the spread of VHS. In addition to restricting bait which may be carriers of the virus, they are also requiring gear to be drained by boaters and anglers upon leaving the water or before entering the state. While VHS hadn’t been an issue in Lake Michigan since 2008, assertive steps are being taken to combat it in Wisconsin waters.

This fact page put together by the WDNR has a wealth of information about VHS, and suggestions for preventing its spread are available here. For more information, read the detailed WDNR release, or the Journal Sentinel release. For books on fish and fishing, see our recommended reading list.

Photo credit: news.medill.northwestern.edu

Milwaukee: Waterways without Asian Carp

In November of 2010, researchers from the University of Notre Dame collected water samples from several Milwaukee waterways including the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers among others. These water samples were then analyzed to see if they contained Asian carp DNA. The good news is that they do not.

While DNA was found in southern parts of Lake Michigan earlier last year near the Illinois-Indiana border, it seems that the measures taken to block the carp from progressing northward have been successful, at least in keeping the invaders out of Milwaukee’s waters. According to a brief article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “only one actual fish has been found above the barrier.” Current focuses are on making sure that the carp are blocked from making it further north up the Mississippi River.

More information about this research can be found in this DNR news release. View our previous blog posts on Asian carp here. There are also several books dealing with Asian carp in our invasive species recommended reading list.

Photo credit: Michael D-L Jordan for nd.edu.

Shortage of Fish Fry Favorite: Yellow Perch

Sad news for the crew of the Barney Devine, a sea vessel being retired and replaced by a newer, more technologically advanced ship, Coregonus. The Barney Devine set out to record the number of yellow perch in Lake Michigan, but returned with a hole in her hull and a remarkably smaller number of recorded fish than previous years. Since the survey area was the same as previous years some researchers are unsure of the cause of the fishy decline. Some blame quagga, a mussel inhabiting the bottom of the lake, known to consume plankton, a valuable feeding resource for young perch. The DNR will not be changing bag limit (number of fish that can be caught) on yellow perch for the time being. For further information, see the WDNR news release.

Photo credit: WDNR website

Grant to Document and Survey Five Lake Michigan Shipwrecks

The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) recently received a $170,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Enhancement program that will fund the documenting and surveying of five shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. Divers will measure, photograph, and sketch the vessels to create a digital mosaic to show landlubbers how the wrecks appear underwater.

The five wrecks that have been selected include the S.S. Milwaukee (near Whitefish Bay), the EMBA (near Milwaukee’s main harbor), the Floretta (near Manitowoc), the America (near Kewaunee), and the Lakeland (near Sturgeon Bay). These ships sank between 1880 and 1932 and were selected for this project because “they represent a cross section of historically significant vessels” (JSonline release).

For more information about Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Shipwrecks, visit the UW Sea Grant and Wisconsin Historical Society website: wisconsinshipwrecks.org. The Wisconsin’s Maritime Trails site was also created based on the Maritime Trails program founded by WHS. The Water Library also has a reading list of books about Great Lakes Shipwrecks.

Photo property of the Wisconsin Historical Society.