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Communicating Superior Science

The results of Sea Grant-supported research on Lake Superior management issues, recovery of the lake trout fishery, and water transport of contaminants were the focus of a daylong workshop involving more than 40 university scientists, outreach specialists, and state and federal resource managers Sept. 21 at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Organized by Wisconsin Sea Grant in collaboration with Minnesota Sea Grant, the workshop provided government resource managers and Sea Grant outreach personnel from both states with an update on nine Sea Grant-supported research projects. Attendees included officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Biological Station, Great Lakes Aquarium, and the Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources.

Notable research results presented at the workshop included:

  • Lake trout populations are declining but continue to be self-sustaining;
  • Genetic markers indicate Superior contains several distinct lake trout populations;
  • Siscowet “fat” trout far outnumber lean lake trout, suggesting a subsidized siscowet harvest may be needed to increase lean lake trout populations;
  • A three-dimensional CD-ROM of nearshore lake trout spawning habitat has been developed with great potential for foreseeing and monitoring the impacts of coastal development on trout spawning;
  • Atmospheric fallout from coal-fueled power plants is the key source of mercury throughout the Lake Superior watershed, though tributaries to the lake are the more important source of methylized mercury, the toxic form that accumulates in fish;
  • The first study of Lake Superior currents in nearly a century is showing that upwelling currents can cause rapid, dramatic changes to the temperature profile of the lake’s water column.

The workshop attracted the attention of local news media, resulting in interviews by Duluth television and radio stations.

The two Sea Grant programs also hosted a public question-and-answer session that evening at the Barker’s Island Inn featuring Wisconsin Sea Grant Director Anders Andren, Minnesota Sea Grant Director Carl Richards, and James Kitchell, coordinator of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Lake Superior Initiative. The session attracted nearly 20 participants, including members of the Douglas County Board.


By Steve Wittman, Wisconsin Sea Grant
November 1999

Return to November 1999 Seiche



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