Great Lakes Now Presents

Episode 2207: Salamanders, Shipping and Shorelines

Saving salamanders, how Great Lakes ports fit into global shipping and The Catch.


Salamanders, Shipping and Shorelines – Episode 2207


A town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula takes action to save the blue-spotted salamander, a look at whether Great Lakes ports could be the key to easing congestion in global shipping, and The Catch explores whitefish recruitment in the Great Lakes, ecological resilience in Toronto and ancient white cedars on the limestone cliffs of Michigan’s Fayette Historic State Park. 






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Premieres on DPTV

Wednesday, July 27, at 7:30 PM


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In the Month of July on Great Lakes Now

Click the tabs to read descriptions of each feature in Episode 2207.



Jill Leonard, Professor of Biology at NMU

Jill Leonard is a Professor of Biology at Northern Michigan University,

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March of the Salamanders

SEGMENT 1 | Geneva, Ohio and Lake Erie

Why did the salamander cross the road?  Maybe not for the same reason as the chicken.

Thousands of blue-spotted salamanders living in Michigan’s Presque Isle Park once had a real problem: Every spring the amphibians would crawl to a nearby swamp to lay their eggs, but a paved road stood in their path, and a lot of them were being crushed by passing cars.

A concerned biology student, Eli Bieri, came to the rescue and touched off an outpouring of support and excitement within the local community. He persuaded the mayor and city commissioners to shut down the stretch of road in Presque Isle Park while the salamanders cross every spring.

Here is other Great Lakes Now work from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula:

Why did the salamander cross the road?

Census: Big population drops in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Groups mobilize to protect Upper Peninsula forest lands from mining, logging

With Line 5 closure, a ‘game of chicken’ over how to heat Upper Peninsula

History of Energy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Line 5 controversy reflects energy development in the U.P. and Canada

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula storm: “the new normal”

Tommy Thompson Park bird (credit Carlos Osorio at The Narwhal)

Tommy Thompson Park bird (credit Carlos Osorio at The Narwhal)

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The Catch: News about the Lakes You Love

SEGMENT 3 | Pere Marquette, MI, Toronto, ON, Garden, MI

Keep up with the Great Lakes’ biggest issues. Find out how environmental challenges are impacting your enjoyment of the outdoors and the health of the ecosystem. Go beyond the headlines with reporters from around the region.

Learn about the lakes you love in Great Lakes Now’s newest segment – The Catch. This month, stories about whitefish, ecological resilience and ancient trees hiding in plain sight.

First up, Kurt Williams of Great Lakes Echo explains why lake whitefish, a native species in the Great Lakes, is experiencing what is known in the world of fisheries biology as a “recruitment problem.” This recruitment issue means that fewer young whitefish are making it to adulthood. Williams explains that the likely culprits are invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels. 

Then, head to Toronto where Emma McIntosh of The Narwhal is reporting on a climate comeback story at Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park. McIntosh investigates the history of the site, which used to be a landfill with a legacy of industrial pollution, and then looks at the resilience of the park in recent years. She also highlights the work being done at the park by conservation scientists who are studying and banding bird species who pass through the park during yearly migration. 

Finally, Garret Ellison of MLive, talks about his recent trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he learned of ancient white cedars growing on the cliffs of Fayette Historic State Park. The trees were first discovered back in the 1990s by a group of scientists led by researcher Doug Larson, who learned that despite the modest size of the trees, they had been growing out of the cliffs for more than a thousand years, making them some of the oldest trees in eastern North America. 

Here is other Great Lakes Now work on issues reported in this month’s “The Catch”:

Will Friedman, President & CEO of Port of Cleveland

Will Friedman is the President and CEO of Port of Cleveland.

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Shipping Constraints

SEGMENT 2 | Port of Cleveland, Port of Duluth-Superior

It is estimated that about 90 percent  of non-bulk cargo worldwide is transported by container ships. In the United States, most of that cargo goes through ports along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. 

But over the past few years supply chain disruptions have left ocean vessels stacked up on both coasts, and shippers are looking for new ways to get their goods to consumers in the heartland. Ports along the Great Lakes say they might be able to help. 

Up until now, nearly all the shipping on the Great Lakes was bulk shipping, moving cargo like iron ore, grain, steel or coal.  But, the Port of Cleveland saw an opportunity and developed the first container service on the Great Lakes to handle import and export cargo. In partnership with Dutch Company Spliethoff, they created the Cleveland Europe Express with a regularly scheduled route between Cleveland and Amsterdam. 

According to Will Friedman, president and CEO of the Port of Cleveland, container shipping through the Great Lakes can be cheaper and more reliable.  “It actually does help with the cost for a ship to come all the way into Cleveland because the longer you keep cargo on the water, the more economical it is,” he says.

The Port of Duluth-Superior is the Great Lakes port that handles shipping containers. Deb DeLuca, the executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, says that more shippers are considering the Port of Duluth to transport products.  “From here you can reach major markets such as the Twin Cities, Fargo, Des Moines and Milwaukee and even down to Chicago so from a logistics standpoint, that’s very attractive,” he says.

But there are challenges to container shipping on the Great Lakes. Ship size is restricted by the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the locks are closed for a period of time during the winter months. 

Still those in Great Lakes ports say there is great opportunity for growth in container shipping on the Great Lakes.  

Here is more Great Lakes Now work on shipping:

Can shipping on the Great Lakes take the next step toward transporting high-value container cargo?

The 2022 Great Lakes shipping season sets sail after COVID-19 hurdles

Sustainable Shipping: The Port of Montreal’s role as the Great Lakes’ green gateway

Sustainable Shipping: At the Port of Milwaukee the wind blows toward a greener future

Sustainable Shipping: Burns Harbor port tries to green Indiana’s industrial coast

Videos from Episode 2207
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Digital Credits
The Great Lakes Now Series is produced by Rob Green and Sandra Svoboda.