Stone Lab: Ground Zero in the fight for the health of Lake Erie

Stone Lab: Ground Zero in the fight for the health of Lake Erie
August 28, 2017 Mary Ellen Geist
Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Geist
Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Geist

Stone Laboratory, courtesy of Mary Ellen Geist

Since 1895, Stone Lab has been a freshwater field station – the oldest one in the United States.

In 1925, the lab was moved from Sandusky, Ohio, to Gibraltar, a 6-and-a-half acre island just off South Bass Island in Lake Erie’s Put-In-Bay to become part of Ohio State University. Landmark research involving Lake Erie was born here, and the lab has also introduced thousands of kids and adults to the basics of biological science through field trips and dozens of college courses.

Almost 40 years ago, when Lake Erie made headlines when it became so polluted some of its tributaries caught fire, Ohio Sea Grant came on board. Since that time, it has been part of Stone Lab’s research and the attempt to help protect the environment of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes. (Ohio Sea Grant is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs.)

Stone Lab is also home to the oldest research vessel on the Great Lakes called “Bio Lab.”

Photo courtesy of Ohio Sea Grant’s Stone Lab

Bio Lab, courtesy of Ohio Sea Grant’s Stone Lab

Just last week, Stone Lab’s Dr. Justin Chaffin received almost $250,000 a year for the next three years in funding from NOAA to study what causes Lake Erie algal blooms to become toxic. New Research from Stone Lab also showed algal blooms have cost Ohio residents about $152 million dollars in property values over the past six years. Another recent related study shows that algae is driving anglers away from Lake Erie, causing a loss in fishing license sales.

Photo courtesy of Mary Ellen Geist

Dr. Chris Winslow holding specimens of harmful Algal Blooms, courtesy of Mary Ellen Geist

That’s just some of the recent news involving Lake Erie that demonstrates the importance of Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Lab.

I recently attended Ohio Sea Grant’s 8th Annual Lake Erie Workshop for Science and Outdoor Writers and Reporters at Stone Lab. In this interview with Director of Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Lab’s Dr. Chris Winslow, Great Lakes Now finds out more about the role Stone Lab has played in the history of the area, and in the fight for the health of Lake Erie:

Over the next month, Great Lakes Now will feature several stories gleaned from my visit to Stone Lab (including my introduction to the rare Lake Erie Water Snake!)

Want to see Stone Lab and the waters surrounding it in Put-In-Bay without ever leaving home? Click here: Live Data , see what happens when you click on this and see if you like it.

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