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lakediver
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The Great Lakes

Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:42 pm

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This is not a diving book but is a fascinating and disturbing look at man's impact on one of natures greatest treasures. Even more so given the possible drastic cuts in the EPA's budget in the near future. Well worth a read. It did make me wonder though, are the myriad shipwrecks that are divable by sport divers in the lakes significantly impacted by Zebra or Quagga mussels?
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swimjim
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Re: The Great Lakes

Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:22 pm

Zebra and Quaga mussels coat everything under water with the possible exception of coal. They are a double edge sword. When I started diving back in the late 70's, visibility on any given day was about ten feet. Now with the mussels, shallow wrecks of around 50ish feet in Lake Michigan where I dive routinely has viz between 25 to 50 feet. Once you get past about one hundred feet, viz surpassing two hundred is not uncommon.
The bad news, if you believe what you read is that the shear weight of the Quaga's in particular is slowly crushing wrecks. Not just obscuring them. What can we do about it??? Nothing. You cannot prevent the spread of these things as besides divers they are also transported by water fowl. There are mussels in water that have never seen divers or boats.
Enjoy the viz that these things have created. The only other good news is that fish like Gobies, another invasive, have discovered that zebra mussels are tasty. They in turn get eaten by the lake Trout and Small mouth Bass.

Jim

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Re: The Great Lakes

Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:38 pm

I saw on National Geographic channel tonight that the water being more clear due to zebra mussels that a type of algae can now grow on the wrecks and when it dies off it becomes toxic and kills all the fish in the area and the dead algae and mussels all around the wrecks are several feet deep in some areas they were studying.
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lakediver
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:50 am

In regard to invasive species in the Great Lakes, I took this photo about 10 years ago after the charter fishing boats came into the harbor in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Is the red circular mark on one of the lake trout from a sea lamprey?
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swimjim
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:38 am

Port Washington is my home "port" by the way. Yes, that is a mark from a lamprey. They got in in the 50's and really did a number on the fishery. They were so common back in a day that swimmers would occasion have one attach to them.
I haven't heard about the algae being toxic, but I am not surprised. 30 years ago when you dove on a wreck it would be literally covered in fish. Now besides Gobies and Burbot they are barren. I have heard about mussels being very thick. In lake Michigan they seem to get about an inch thick. However they are thicker in the bay of Green Bay. More "nutrients" in the water probably.

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simonbeans
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:01 am

We have seen a drastic swing in the zebra, et al mussels/gobie population in the last decade here in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. When the mussels were at their highest, the visibility was pristine. I remember being at the bow of the 132' Vickery wreck and seeing the stern clearly. Then the gobies showed up, ate the zebras and the vis dropped considerably. 50' is considered good now albeit much higher in the winter. (So I am told, too cold for me.) It is not uncommon to see large patches of "periwinkle" zebra shells covering the bottom. There was a time when the bottom would "quiver" with thousands of gobies. That seems to have decreased in the past few years. We still see many fish on the wrecks. The Americas, a motorized (steam) barge, lying upside down the St Lawrence shipping channel a few miles east of Alexandria Bay, NY is literally covered with walleyes and bass, both small and large mouth, all oriented up current. And on the
Henry C Daryaw, located on the Canadian side of the river, it is becoming common to see Sturgeon as you drift across the upside down 200' wreck bottom.
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rhwestfall
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:07 pm

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Bob

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rhwestfall
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:34 pm

I will also add that we are slowly seeing our wrecks disappear, buried in Zebra Mussel excrement....
Bob

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lakediver
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Re: The Great Lakes

Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:39 pm

Yuck.

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USdiver
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:04 am

On my diving the Lake Huron wrecks outside of Port Sanilac, I can confirm the existence of the Zebra mussel carpeting everything, and only goby and burbot fish on the wrecks. At least no lampreys.
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rhwestfall
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:43 pm

This is pretty thin in comparison to areas of the bottom that look like a white sand beach. This is all dead Zebra Mussel shells....

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swimjim
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:02 pm

rhwestfall wrote:This is pretty thin in comparison to areas of the bottom that look like a white sand beach. This is all dead Zebra Mussel shells....

Image
In Lake Michigan, at least in my area, this common in places with shale and or rocky bottoms. Even where there are vast expanses of sand though, seeing patches of mussels in the new norm. Here is a video I did of the ship wreck Walter B Allen seven years ago. She is fairly typical of our deepish wrecks. https://vimeo.com/5429760 . The ship is 137 feet long. If I had the right camera angle you would see her bow to stern AND the bottom going away. That what viz in the 200 foot range is like. Pretty amazing really.

Jim

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SurfLung
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:18 pm

- I live on a formerly pea green lake in central Minnesota. It's on a "chain" of lakes that the Zebra mussels have gotten into. Water clarity has gotten as good as 30 feet. Yes the Zebras do coat everything on the bottom. But the increased light has encouraged deeper weed growth and therefore more cover for game fish. I have been diving when schools of minnows were swimming all in formation just like you've seen ocean schools swim. I have been in smaller schools of bigger fish, too. I have had 20+ walleyes swimming around me. Huge carp glide in and out of view.
- There is something going on with the carp, too. The DNR stopped removing them and now when a school of them gets into your area they root around in the silt and make the water all cloudy. When they move on, it clears up again. But, I've noticed at 20 feet deep, where I used to stick my arm into silt up to my elbow... There is now a firm sandy bottom. I'm figuring the carp stir it up and the zebra mussels filter it.
- The DNR sees this all as a terrible consequence and has suggested POISONING our lakes to get rid of the mussels. They don't see where they've improved the water quality by a natural process. Heck the state of Michigan has based their "Pure Michigan" state advertising theme on the beautifully clear water brought about by Zebra Mussels.
- There may be other natural cleanups happening, too. My sister has lived on a lake that was always so weedy you could hardly navigate a boat in it. Well, the DNR quit trapping the "rough fish" (carp) and the carp have been eating the weeds. Nowsdays there are people swimming and water skiing in that lake. You could say the DNR had been mis-managing it to death for decades and when they finally left it alone it regained its beauty.
- I sure like my lake a heck of a lot more with its clean and clear zebra mussel water. I hope the DNR just leaves it alone.
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simonbeans
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:03 pm

Just be sure to keep the Gobies out of your lake. They eat Zebras and viz goes down.
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swimjim
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Re: The Great Lakes

Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:08 pm

Generally speaking, when man goes in to "fix" something perceived to be wrong in nature, he screws it up royally.

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