Volume 4 2015


Sturgeon Story Comes Alive

It’s already possible to read The People of the Sturgeon, the popular look at Wisconsin’s rich historical relationship with the colorful, prehistoric fish written by former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Warden Ron Bruch and Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Kathy Kline and Fred Binkowski. You can also listen to it as an audiobook.

Now there’s a third, interactive way to experience this rich and interesting history. Wisconsin Water Librarian Anne Moser, David Hart, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s assistant director for extension, and UW-Madison under- graduate research scholar Rachel Berglund teamed up to produce an interactive, GIS-based story map that draws upon and augments the book’s original content. Users who visit maps.aqua.wisc.edu/storymaps/peopleofthesturgeon/ will be able to view photographer Bob Rashid’s breathtaking images and read excerpts from the book, but they’ll also be able to click to listen to interviews with some of the book’s key contributors, as well as interact with maps that show, for instance, the locations of dams that disrupted the natural spawning habits of the sturgeon and threatened their survival. One additional map shows the current locations of healthy sturgeon populations.

“The People of the Sturgeon has been an ideal book for story map technology,” said Moser. “The story of sturgeon is very connected to place and comes with a tremendous amount of related content—interviews, photographs and other source materials. Using a story map allows us to share a wealth of information that couldn’t be included in the book.”

More sturgeon resources available at Wisconsin Water Library.

River Talks Series Resumes

When the St. Louis River talks, people listen. More than 240 people attended the informal monthly series of talks by river managers and researchers last season. This year, a new sponsor is joining Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve—Minnesota Sea Grant. The hour-long discussions will take place either in Superior or Duluth on the last Wednesday of the month, with a “bonus” talk in conjunction with the St. Louis River Science Summit in February.

For the full schedule, please visit go.wisc.edu/h7s8a3.

Virtually Real-Time Beach Conditions

Longing for those glorious summer days on Great Lakes beaches? Sadly, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Virtual Beach website doesn’t give you the feel of sun on your skin and the sound of the waves. However, it does give beach managers access to an advanced statistical modeling tool known as “Virtual Beach” and a wealth of online hydro-meteorological data available through the Great Lakes Observing System.

Developed collaboratively by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S Geological Survey and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Virtual Beach allows beach managers to quickly and accurately predict when bacteria levels warrant posting swim advisories.

Beach managers know it as “now-casting” and have discovered the ways it’s faster and more efficient than relying solely on collecting and testing water samples to estimate beach water quality.

Jon Gabrielse, who is responsible for monitoring water quality at Sheboygan County’s beaches, said he’s noticed the positive effects of Virtual Beach. Last month, there was an instance at General King Beach in Sheboygan in which Virtual Beach correctly predicted levels of e.coli— the bacteria typically used to measure beach health—exceeding state standards, allowing Gabrielse to issue an advisory that morning, rather than waiting until the next day for lab results. The system also accurately predicted non-exceedances at two popular nearby beaches, keeping them open when they might otherwise have been closed.

“Without Virtual Beach, it was always a day late,” said Gabrielse, who works for Cardinal Environmental, a local firm that has been monitoring water quality for the county for many years. “You’d put a warning sign up on Tuesday when it should have gone up on Monday. And then by the time you put the sign up, the beach conditions had improved and the warning was unnecessary.”

Gabrielse also noted that Virtual Beach has translated into a sizable reduction in time-intensive eld work. Daily water sampling activities have been reduced to a more manageable once or twice a week.

“The big plus is the real-time data we receive with Virtual Beach,” he said. “That’s invaluable.”

Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Virtual Beach website explains the benefits of Virtual Beach and provides a series of training modules, links to online data and other resources to bring new users up to speed. 

Monofilament Mania

With all the work going on to restore habitat in the St. Louis River Estuary, organizations would be remiss if they didn’t also address a man-made killer that lurks there—monofilament fishing line. And that’s just what the St. Louis River Alliance of Duluth, Minn., is doing.

Wildlife can get caught in discarded or lost fishing line, sometimes leading to deaths. This spring, the Alliance began a program to install monofilament recycling bins at public boat landings along the estuary in Duluth and Superior, Wis. They sent out a call for cooperation and support to several local organizations and organized adult and youth groups to participate in an “Adopt-A-Bin” program.

Wisconsin Sea Grant heeded the call by offering six bins that were donated by the NOAA Marine Debris Program a few years ago. Made of wide white PVC pipe tubing with a curved opening on top, the bins look more like small ship smokestacks than boxes. Bill Majewski with the Alliance out tted the tubes with a special wooden

door that keeps birds from using the bins for nesting and deters people from throwing trash inside. The organization also created “Reel in and Recycle” stickers to let boat landing visitors know what the bins are for.

The donated bins were installed by Jill DiDomenico of the Alliance and her homegrown work crew (her children) in Superior. Anglers will notice them at Loon’s Foot Landing, Arrowhead Pier, Billings Park, Barker’s Island at the public boat launch, the dock by the Wisconsin Sea Grant/ Lake Superior Reserve of office, and the fishing pier along the Osaugie Trail on the mainland across from the office.

If you find discarded fishing line at any of these sites, please look for the bin and do your part to keep the estuary clean! 

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents