It turns out many people don’t realize it isn’t just the Asian Carp and quagga mussels that are threatening the largest body of freshwater on earth. In fact, there are more than 180 invasive species living in the Great Lakes.
That’s just one of the many revelations that are made crystal clear – complete with creepy video of sea lamprey slithering along a shoreline – in the documentary called “Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes” which is airing on many PBS stations across the Midwest.
Producer Jessica Walsh who made the film along with her husband, director of photography Brendan Walsh, says the film was a six-year labor of love. She tells Great Lakes Now she and her husband, who are both from the Chicago area, grew up spending time along the shores of Lake Michigan. She says, “We knew we wanted to do a film about the Great Lakes and do something that made a difference in the Great Lakes Region.”
She says when they started doing research for the documentary, “We knew lots of people didn’t know about the amount of invasive species wreaking havoc on the Great Lakes and we wanted to educate the people and help open their eyes to it and help them be part of the solution.”
At first, she and her husband financed the film, but as the project got bigger, they sought funding from other sources. Finally, The Nature Conservancy came through, along with Fortune Brands Home and Security, and a grant from the BoatU.S. Foundation. Eventually, they received funding from the Chicago Marine Heritage Society.
Jessica says they logged thousands of miles travelling all across the Great Lakes and filming along beautiful shorelines she’d never seen before. Jessica says, “It was an incredible experience. I mostly had grown up travelling the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan, so to see the rocky cliffs along Lake superior, the sculpted stone of Pictured Rocks and Chimney Bluffs;
the sand formations of dunes and the variety of shorelines and ecosystems in our region – it gave me so much more of an appreciation of the Great lakes and what a treasure we have here.
It gave us a renewed sense of urgency to protect this beautiful precious treasure in our region, and it helped us complete the film and get it done.“
They also found some surprises along the way, like a smelt festival in Duluth, Minnesota that requires the fishermen to bite the heads off their catch.
She says she hopes the film will make people realize the ways they might be contributing to bringing invasive species into the Great Lakes. She says, “Lots of invasive species travel in recreational watercraft, or get attached to your boat or your bait bucket. We want people to know this, so they’re not unknowingly transporting invasive species into the Great Lakes.”
The film screened at the recent Freep Film Festival in Detroit and Jessica says word about the documentary is spreading. She’s getting calls from the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and from as far away as China. She tells Great Lakes Now it’s overwhelming. “It’s an amazing feeling,” Jessica says. “We’re finally seeing that it’s having an impact.”
“Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes” airs on Detroit Public Television Thursday April 20th from 9 to 11pm. For local times, go to makingwavedocumentary.com