Politics, economics, recreation and science are all part of the latest episode of Great Lakes Now. Go underwater in the five lakes with a group of women who dove them all in 24 hours, and learn more about the controversy about controlling water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence. Get aboard a commercial fishing boat on Lake Huron, and meet Dr. Katfish, who wants you to know that Great Lakes fish can be fun and festive.
WHERE WE TAKE YOU THIS MONTH
Watch Live on DPTV
Tuesday, November 26 at 7:30 PM
STATIONS CARRYING THE SERIES
Buffalo, New York
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana
Syracuse, New York
Watertown, New York
This Month on Great Lakes Now
Click the tabs to read descriptions of each feature in Episode 1008.
Big Five Dive
SEGMENT 1 | UNDERWATER IN ALL FIVE LAKES
One sunken hotel, four shipwrecks and five Great Lakes — in 24 hours with 1,000 miles of diving.
A group of 14 women SCUBA divers challenged themselves physically and logistically to visit five underwater sites in five different Great Lakes. They did it on PADI Women’s Dive Day, but say it was as much about the adventure as it was marking the day.
Setting out into Lake Superior at midnight, they then moved to Lake Michigan. By dawn, they’d finished their Lake Huron dive.
“When we came up from our 10 minutes under water, the sun had been shining,” said diver Hannah MacDonald. “It was just beautiful and it felt like I was in a dream.”
Here are more Great Lakes Now stories about diving & shipwrecks:
- Read Great Lakes Now’s interview with the filmmaker Elizabeth Kaiser by clicking HERE.
- Hear what Big Five Diver Meaghan Gass thought about the adventure HERE.
- WATCH “Wrecks Within Reach” from Great Lakes Now about how you can see shipwrecks from above or in the water.
- Read more about efforts to bring marine sanctuaries to the Great Lakes in “Sanctuaries in Sight.”
SEGMENT 2 | BAY PORT, MICHIGAN
Great Lakes commercial fishing once employed tens of thousands of people, but the industry has shrunk dramatically. Some 25 commercial fishing businesses operate in the state today, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Bay Port Fish Company is one of them. Established in 1895, the business has been in Lakon Williams’s family since 1978.
““You could define commercial fishing a lot of ways. I define it more as harvesting the fish for the masses, feeding the masses,” she said.“
Her father, Captain Tod Williams, bought the company with a brother and a friend 41 years ago. Since then, they’ve been catching fish with trap nets. They have 10-20 nets out at a time, and they check each one every week, weather permitting, on Lake Huron off Michigan’s eastern shores.
Here are more Great Lakes Now stories about fishing:
- Read about the history of fishing on the Great Lakes HERE.
Lake Ontario Shoreline Flooding
SEGMENT 3 | SODUS BAY, NEW YORK
Lake levels have neared record highs in 2019, and Lake Ontario has been especially hard hit. Shoreline flooding is a major concern with damage along the lakeshore and into the St. Lawrence River.
Some residents, business owners and politicians blame the lack of control of the lake levels and the resulting damage on the International Joint Commission—a bi-national organization that, in part, regulates outflows from Lake Ontario—and its plan for determining how much water to let out of Lake Ontario through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam.
But the IJC contends it’s precipitation, not mismanagement, that’s causing the flooding. Lake levels are near record highs on all the Great Lakes this year.
“The problem is more with timing than anything. The plan was developed over the course of many years, and finally at the end of December of 2016, plan 2014 was decided upon and then four months later we had a major flood,” says Jane Corwin, U.S. Commissioner & Chair, IJC.
Here are more Great Lakes Now stories about the IJC:
- Watch Great Lakes Now’s previous segment about high water levels in the Great Lakes HERE.
- Read about Plan 2014 and what the IJC is doing to address complaints HERE.
- New York State is suing the IJC. Read more about that HERE.
- Read the current status of the IJC’s review of Plan 2014 and New York’s lawsuit against the IJC HERE.
SEGMENT 4 | SOUTH BEND, INDIANA
When doctoral student Katie O’Reilly saw a certain poster of Great Lakes fish, its layout reminded her of an advent calendar. And it got her thinking: what if she designed something similar? But instead of a daily piece of chocolate, she shared facts about Great Lakes fish, and she did it on Twitter.
Her idea spawned the #25DaysofFishmas annual campaign, now heading into its fourth rendition. Shared on Twitter, O’Reilly creates whimsical graphics and clever tweets, mostly based on her coastal wetlands research for her studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Known as @DrKatfish on the social media platform, O’Reilly promises to “reel you in” with the fish puns too.
“Talking about freshwater fish is a really important issue. We’ve seen really big losses of biodiversity in freshwater species across the world,” O’Reilly said. “I think #25DaysofFishmas has shown that there is interest in freshwater fish and there are ways that we can build upon that to keep raising awareness about both freshwater fish and the places they call home.“
Here are more Great Lakes Now stories about Katie O’Reilly:
This segment was co-produced by WNIT-TV in South Bend with a Great Lakes Now Local Station Production and Engagement Grant.
Videos from Episode 1008Subscribe on YouTube
Pipelines, Plastics and Parks
The fight over an oil-and-gas pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, and microplastics in waters. The newest U.S. National Park on Lake Michigan’s shoreline.Watch the Show
Cruises, Rising Waters and Ship Safety
Travel aboard one of the growing number of cruise ships as passengers visit First Nation communities on a Canadian island in Lake Huron.Watch the Show
Household waste, lead and agricultural runoff are byproducts of modern life. Get the down-and-dirty reality of what can happen when these substances get into the region’s water systems.Watch the Show
The potential environmental impacts of the flood are wide ranging.
Scientists and activists fear some of the progress made to clean up dioxin pollution has washed away with the floodwaters that overwhelmed two dams this week.
Catch the latest updates on what’s happening with PFAS in Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.
The National Weather Service forecasts the Illinois River will reach major flood stage Saturday morning at Meredosia, about 50 miles west of Springfield.
In the Great Lakes region, heavy rains and flooding can’t be postponed despite the pandemic. Midland’s overwhelmed dams is just one example why.
Midland County is dealing with a state of emergency after two improperly maintained dams breached following heavy rains.
Produced fully during the COVID-19 pandemic, this episode checks in with people, businesses and institutions from previous episodes to see how work has changed during the public health emergency. But while social distancing keeps people inside, it lets the residents of some Great Lakes aquariums get out.
The uncommonly wet May caused river levels to spike and taxed the region’s storm sewers.
The Great Lakes Now Series is produced by Rob Green and Sandra Svoboda.
Digital Designer: Shelby Jouppi
Digital Video and Photography: Paul Dzendzel, Rob Green, Miles Holst, Matt Ilas, Bill Kubota, Kevin Morrissey, Sandra Svoboda, James Weir, Jordan Wingrove and Courtesy of Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources,NewsHour Weekend, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Shedd Aquarium, WKYC-TV, WVIZ-Ideastream, WKYC,
Website Writing: Natasha Blakely, Rob Green, Sandra Svoboda