Join us in congratulating Jacob Wood

November 19th, 2014 by

Former intern Jacob Wood received an award earlier this month for a poster he presented during Purdue University’s GIS Day, an annual event dedicated to geospatial research and geographic information systems (GIS). 

“The poster detailed my work over the summer with IISG on mapping Lake Michigan catch data. Jarrod Doucette and myself have been working creating a web app for the IISG website to visualize two decades of recorded fish catch data from the Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources. I thought presenting the poster at Purdue’s GIS Day would be a great way to show the work that I accomplished for IISG over the summer.”
Read more about our summer internship program and hear from past interns about what they are up to now. 

Lake Michigan buoy returns to nearshore waters with upgrades for the season

June 6th, 2014 by
The Michigan City buoy returned to the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan on June 5—this time with an upgrade that boaters, anglers, and researchers have been eagerly awaiting. In addition to broadcasting real-time data on wave height and direction, wind speed, and air and surface water temperatures, the improved buoy now relays water temperatures at different depths.

The sensor chain, which measures water temperatures approximately every 3 ft. from the surface to the bottom of the lake, will help kayakers know when the water is warm enough to paddle out and make it easier for anglers to find and catch their favorite fish. A more comprehensive picture of nearshore water temperatures is also vital for research on fisheries and nearshore hydrodynamics.   

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback asking us when the buoy will be in the water again,” said Carolyn Foley, IISG assistant research coordinator. “And they’re all excited to hear that we’ve added a temperature chain to our setup. The nearest buoy with a similar chain is about 30 miles away.”   
Real-time data will be available on IISG’s website until the buoy is pulled out for the winter in mid-October. The site currently shows snapshots of lake conditions—updated every 10 minutes—as well as trends over 24-hour and 5-day periods. Buoy-watchers can also download raw historical data at NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center.
Later this summer, IISG will be hosting a workshop designed to help educators develop science, math, and stewardship projects using the real-time buoy data. The workshop is scheduled for August 6 at Purdue University North Central.
The Michigan City buoy is owned and operated by IISG and Purdue University Department of Civil Engineering. Funding for the new temperature sensor chain is provided by a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

Illini Bass Fishing Club helps IISG spread invasive species info

April 8th, 2014 by
The IISG aquatic invasive species team (AIS) kicked off their fishing tournament season with a bang earlier this week. Several members were onsite April 6 for a high school bass fishing tournament to talk with young anglers about the threat of AIS and what they can do to prevent their spread. Hosted by the Illini Bass Fishing Club, the third annual High School Open drew a record number of teams and anglers to central Illinois’ Clinton Lake. 
IISG science writer Anjanette Riley joined the AIS team for the tournament and recalls the day’s events:  

“If every fishing tournament this year was like the High School Open, this will be a great year for AIS outreach. During the couple hours we were onsite, Sarah Zack and Alice Denny  talked with hundreds of anglers, coachers, and on-lookers from Illinois and Wisconsin. 

But more than the numbers, what really made Sunday a success was people’s enthusiasm. Groups huddled around the IISG table to talk about Sea Grant, invasive species, and three easy steps to ensure invaders can’t hitch a ride to new waterbodies: remove, drain, dry. Many of these coaches said they would take the message—and the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers giveaways—back to team members not competing that day. And frequent announcements from Luke Stoner, the Illini club president, reminded the crowd of the risks AIS pose to their sport and the importance of “leaving the lakes better than we found them.” 

The day also proved successful for many of the anglers fighting to catch the most and biggest bass. The fish were hesitant to bite, but more than half of the 79 competing teams weighed in at least one. Several teams brought in bags of fish weighing more than 6 lbs. The winning duo, though, sealed their victory with two fish weighing in at 8.3lbs, and the Big Bass award went to an Edinburg-South Fork student who caught a 6.46lb largemouth bass—a true “Clinton Lake slaunch.”  

These hard-working high school anglers have a full season of fishing in front of them. In fact, for many of the teams, Sunday was their first day on the water this year. And their successes at the tournament will help them qualify to compete in sectional and state competitions.  
Sunday was the first of many tournaments for IISG’s AIS outreach team as well. Sarah, Alice, and others will take their message of prevention to professional and amateur tournaments across Illinois and Indiana this spring. But the annual High School Open marked a rare and important opportunity to talk with young anglers about the importance of curbing the spread of AIS.” 
To learn more about AIS, visit the IISG website. And watch for our “Be a Hero – Transport Zero” campaign this summer with how-to information on basic steps to take before leaving a marina or boat ramp.     

New aquatic ecology specialist joins IISG

March 21st, 2014 by
Jay Beugly has joined the team as IISG’s newest aquatic ecology specialist. Located a Purdue University, he works closely with our research team to increase public awareness of the Michigan City nearshore buoy and help boaters, anglers, and beachgoers make use of the data. He also helps coordinate research and outreach activities on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. 
Jay has a Master’s degree in biology from Ball State University, where his work on river and stream ecology earned him the 2009 Outstanding Graduate Student in Fisheries Award. He is currently working towards a PhD in aquatic community ecology.

Invasive carp turned delicious taste test at recent bowfishing tournament

August 26th, 2013 by
Katherine Touzinsky, a graduate student at Purdue University and 2014 Knauss Fellowship finalist, set out to prove to skeptics that Asian carp really does taste great. The taste test was held in conjunction with the Houston Bowfishing Classic tournament along the Wabash River outside Lafayette, Indiana.
Katherine and Angie Archer, fellowship specialist with IISG, served up tasty fried fish strips which Katherine calls “silvertips”, a wordplay combination of silver carp and wing tips. Many of the bowfishermen have caught Asian carp but had never tried this mild white fish. After watching friends enjoy the crispy fish, they were encouraged to grab a piece. The reactions ranged from “so-so” to “delicious,” with a few coming back for seconds (and even thirds).
The Houston Bowfishing Classic shoots are in their eighth year and are quickly gaining in popularity and notoriety among Midwestern bowfisherman. Katherine’s project, entitled “Winning Back the Wabash—Clean ‘em Out and Cook ‘em Up,” was funded by a Purdue Sustainability Office grant. The goal of the grant project is to help foster environmental stewardship and invasive species control through outreach and active engagement of community members. To help with control, the tournament offered an award to the most silver and bighead carp caught by a team, and another award for the biggest fish (by weight). The 14 teams hauled in 171 Asian carp, with the biggest silver carp weighing in at 11.3 pounds and a bighead carp that weighed 14.5 pounds. 
The Dean John A. Knauss Fellowship, awarded annually through National Sea Grant, provides post-graduates the opportunity to work with legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. for one year. Students who have an interest in oceanic and Great Lakes research or marine policies affecting our natural resources are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the fellowship page on our website.

IISG summer intern helping spread AIS info to tournament fishers

June 27th, 2013 by
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s summer interns are already hard at work assisting specialists in several areas, working directly on important issues and getting the public involved in problems facing the Great Lakes. 
Alice Denny, one of the interns working with the aquatic invasive species team, has been working with AIS specialist Sarah Zack to bring important invasive species prevention information to fishing tournament organizers and participants. She just recently attended the first of several tournaments slated for this summer, and wrote in to tell us about the internship experience thus far. 
“It has been a busy week for me at the AIS office. This summer I am primarily working with fishing tournament organizers and anglers to better understand their attitudes and practices in AIS prevention. Last weekend, I attended my first fishing tournament and had a great time. Although the weather was less than ideal at North Point Marina, Clean Boats Crew and I were able to reach out to the salmon and trout anglers in the Geoffrey Morris Memorial Tournament. Sarah and I attended the rules meeting Friday evening to talk about simple steps tournament anglers can take to prevent the spread of AIS. Then on Saturday I went to the weigh-in to speak with anglers one-on-one and hand out educational material. There were around 70 boats participating in the tournament, with multiple anglers per boat. The audience was receptive and I really enjoyed speaking with them about the importance of AIS prevention. I’ll be attending another tournament in Indiana next weekend, and I’m hoping for nice weather and lots of fish so I can reach as many anglers as possible! Overall I’m really enjoying working with this audience over the summer as I’m getting lots of experience with outreach.”
Several of our interns wrote about their experiences at the IAGLR 2013 conference, and there are many more events and projects they’ll be updating us on throughout the summer.

IISG brings important aquative invasive species info to high school fishing tournament

April 10th, 2013 by

While parents, coaches, and friends gathered around to watch high school anglers show off their catch from a fishing tournament held early this week, IISG’s Sarah Zack was onsite to introduce competitors and on-lookers to simple practices that can prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Hosted by the Illini Bass Fishing Club, the event brought high school clubs from across Illinois to Clinton Lake on April 7 to see who could catch the most and the biggest bass. The tournament, one of few held at the high school level each year, gave IISG’s AIS outreach team an important opportunity to talk with young anglers about the threat of AIS to local waterways.  

“Talking with the kids now plants that seed for future years,” said Brian Bevill, coach of the Illini Bluffs High School Bass Fishing Club. 

During the few hours that IISG was onsite at Clinton Lake, Sarah talked with dozens of anglers and boaters from across Illinois. Frequent announcements from the tournament emcee also reminded the audience of the negative impacts AIS can have on the health of aquatic environments. Many of the people who visited the IISG booth had heard about Asian carp. But fewer people knew about the need to remove, drain, and dry all equipment after a day on the water. Most were also interested in learning about a new Illinois law that makes it illegal to drive with plants or mud still clinging to boats and trailers. 

This High School Open is one of many fishing tournaments IISG’s AIS outreach team plans to attend this year in both Illinois and Indiana. This season especially, the team hopes to reach out to more amateur and semi-professional anglers with information about how they can prevent the spread of invasive species. 

“These anglers want to make sure they’re doing their part to prevent the spread of AIS because they know that is an important part of preserving the sport of fishing for the future,” said Sarah. “It is encouraging that the message is being embraced. I was especially excited to work with the Illini Bass Fishing Club because of their commitment to AIS prevention.”  

Sunday’s tournament was the second High School Open hosted by the Illini Bass Fishing Club in as many years. 

“We started this because we wanted to show kids in high school that if they care about fishing enough, and work hard enough, they can take it somewhere,” said Luke Stoner, executive administrator for the club. “What we really like to see are smiling faces and big old bass.”

This year, 134 students fought to catch the most and biggest fish. For many of the teams, the tournament marked their first day on the water this season. But after months of casting practice and learning how to “flip and pitch” the lure to trick the bass into biting, the student anglers were prepared.

Three teams brought in bags of fish weighing more than 17 lbs, and three fish came in at over 6 lbs. Their successes at this event will help students qualify to compete in sectional and state competitions slated for later this year. 

“The competition in fishing is unlike any other sport,” said Kyle Sweet, a senior at Illini Bluffs High School in Glasford, IL. “In football, for example, you only play one other team at a time. Here we are competing with 67 teams and the fish at the same time.”

IISG heads to the outdoor shows to kick off 2013

January 11th, 2013 by
Sarah Zack and Danielle Hilbrich, members of IISG’s aquatic invasive species outreach team, set up a booth and talked with hundreds of visitors at the Let’s Go Fishing Show in Collinsville, IL January 4-6. They attended the show in order to provide more information to fishermen and boaters about the dangers of aquatic invasive species, and introduce them to some simple practices that can help reduce the spread of invasives.
Many visitors to the IISG booth had experienced Asian carp jumping at their boats while on the water, and were very interested in ways they could protect themselves while fishing and boating in infested waters. In addition, Danielle and Sarah encouraged anyone that catches an Asian carp – accidently or on purpose – to cook it up and eat it. Asian carp have mild-tasting, white, flaky flesh that takes seasoning and marinades very well. Asian carp are a healthy choice too, since they’re low in contaminants and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Many attendees said they were willing to try cooking Asian carp, so Danielle and Sarah shared recipes with them as well as copies of Louisiana Sea Grant’s video on how to fillet Asian carp.
The booth was highly visited throughout the weekend, and Danielle and Sarah had the chance to hand out hundreds of Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ stickers and brochures while offering people more information about invasive species. The booth was even featured on a 92.3 WIL, a popular St. Louis country radio station, and radio host Bo Matthews briefly talked with Sarah Zack about AIS prevention steps that people can take to stop the spread of AIS – inspecting for and removing aquatic plants and animals from equipment, draining all water, disposing of live bait in the trash, and drying recreational equipment before visiting another waterbody. Bo Matthews strongly supports IISG’s AIS-prevention message, and even put a Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! sticker on the radio station truck to help spread the word.
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey Lake Michigan Biological Station, and is housed at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, IL.

Asian carp hunters featured on Animal Planet program

October 3rd, 2012 by
If you tuned in to “Off the Hook: Extreme Catches” this past Sunday on Animal Planet you got a chance to see Asian carp, a major aquatic invasive concern, as well as some people who are fighting the flying fish. 
“The Animal Planet show that spent four days filming on and around the Illinois River last summer for a feature on the acrobatic insanity of everyone’s least favorite invasive fish, the Asian carp, will be shown Sunday.
“Off the Hook: Extreme Catches,” with host/professional wrestler Eric Young presents “Carpocalypse Now” at 7 p.m. Sunday. Greg Gephards, who owns Schooners on War Memorial Drive and had a role in the production of the program, is hosting a party for the occasion.”
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