Floating Lab Monitors Great Lakes

  • A state-of-the-art research vessel the “Muskie” is currently making its way through Lake Erie collecting data samples for the US Geological Survey. Photo: Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

  • The USGS researchers are also keeping an eye out for a primitive species of fish called Sea Lamprey. In the past the Lamprey was a cause of great concern in the Great Lakes. Photo: Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

August 16, 2013
By Ashley Hirtzel

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission estimates that more than 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for food, drinking water and recreation. A state-of-the-art research vessel the “Muskie” is currently making its way through Lake Erie collecting data samples for the U.S. Geological Survey.

The 70-foot-long vessel isn’t your average boat. It’s rigged with advanced sonar and noise reduction technology and high-end microscopes for testing fish samples. Director of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Russell Strach, says the boat has everything you’d find in a lab and more.

“It also has hydroacoustic capability that’s a technique where you can essentially penetrate sound into the water and get an image of the fish or schools of fish, we can actually identify to species based on those sound waves and determine general abundance and density,” says Strach.

Strach says the USGS researchers aboard the vessel are on Lake Erie to monitor the fish population for evidence of invasive species and environmental changes.

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