In the second episode of the Great Lakes Now monthly show, come aboard a boat that delivers mail to ships on the Great Lakes. Learn about life on a Great Lakes freighter, and dive into some incredible shipwrecks that you don’t necessarily need a scuba tank to see in the Great Lakes’ only national marine sanctuary.
WHERE WE TAKE YOU THIS MONTH
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Watch Live on DPTV
Tuesday, December 29 at 7:30 PM
STATIONS CARRYING THE SERIES
Bad Axe, Michigan
Bay County, Michigan
Bowling Green, Ohio
Buffalo, New York
East Lansing, Michigan
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Green Bay, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Menomonie-Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Park Falls, Wisconsin
South Bend, Indiana
Syracuse, New York
University Center, Michigan
Watertown, New York for Ontario signal
Watertown, New York for U.S. signal
This Month on Great Lakes Now
Click the tabs to read descriptions of each feature in Episode 2.
You’ve Got Mail
SEGMENT 1 | ABOARD THE J.W. WESTCOTT, DETROIT RIVER
Come aboard the tugboat that delivers to Great Lakes freighters
This segment won First Place in Feature Reporting in the Society of Professional Journalists – metro Detroit chapter 2020 contest, received an Award of Merit – Documentary Short, Award of Recognition – Concept, and Award of Recognition – Creativity/Originality from the Impact Doc Awards, and was recognized in the video presentation category by the Michigan Press Association.
Since 1874, this family-owned company has made deliveries to commercial ships on the Detroit River. Great Lakes Now Host Ward Detwiler goes aboard the J.W. Westcott II while mail and crew get to today’s passing freighters.
Brian Heikkuri, a deckhand with the Westcott company, shares stories about his work.
“They’ll order from the pizza joint right down the street,” Heikkuri says. “We take it, put it into their delivery box and send it right up the side of the ship on a rope.
Life Aboard a Freighter
SEGMENT 2 | WPBS-DT | EASTERN LAKE ONTARIO, NEW YORK
Meet the captain and crew and learn what life is like on a Great Lakes ship
Board a vessel in the Welland Canal, the series of locks that allow ships to bypass Niagara Falls, and travel with the captain and crew into the stunning Thousand Islands region east of Lake Ontario.
In this segment from partner station WPBS-TV in New York, Great Lakes Now introduces the men who work on board.
“If you do a job that you love, you don’t feel like you’re working,” says Wilson Walters, captain of the CSL Welland.
Got a question for a Great Lakes freighter captain? Ask it HERE. >>
Watch the full WPBS documentary HERE. >>
WPBS produced this segment in part with support from a Great Lakes Now Local Station Production Grant.
Since this original airing, WPBS and Great Lakes Now have partnered on several stories and events:
WATCH: Freighter Technology segment
Wrecks Within Reach
SEGMENT 3 | ALPENA, MICHIGAN
The Great Lakes only national marine sanctuary brings underwater history up close
This segment received an Award of Recognition – Documentary Short and Award of Recognition – Nature/Environment/Wildlife from the Impact Doc Awards.
Whether you’re in a glass-bottomed boat, looking down from a kayak, or diving underwater, the shipwrecks at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary give you a haunting look at the past.
Start your visit at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the sanctuary’s museum in Alpena, Michigan, and continue on the waters of Lake Huron to see the wrecks.
But it’s not just tourists who benefit from the work of the archaeologists and historians. Sanctuary staff help local students learn about the Great Lakes in a “Science and the Sanctuary” class that’s required at Alpena High School.
“It’s kind of changed a career course for me,” says freshman Jillian Pilarski. “I really enjoy science and never had an opportunity to learn about what I want to learn about. … This right now is really what I’m into.”
- See similar sanctuaries on the Great Lakes or learn more about other potential national marine sanctuaries on the Great Lakes.
Here is additional Great Lakes Now work about shipwrecks since this segment first aired:
- Sanctuaries in Sight: The solo national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes could be joined by three more
- The Age of Nature: Humanity’s relationship with nature in the Great Lakes region and beyond
- Shipwreck Life: How fish and other aquatic species utilize Great Lakes shipwrecks
- What Grows: “Shipwrecks and Ecosystems” watch party for Great Lakes Now and “The Age of Nature”
- What Grows: Shipwrecks become ecosystems, even at nuclear testing sites
Videos from the EpisodeSubscribe on YouTube
Invasive mussels are hastening the deterioration of historic Great Lakes shipwrecks, like the submerged Prins Willem V off Milwaukee. Zebra and quagga mussels are also a big problem for water treatment and power plants. But…
Who are the people in this old freighter movie? And where could PFAS be in your home?
The White House and the U.S. Senate change hands. What will it mean for the Great Lakes?
Come aboard a boat that delivers mail to ships on the Great Lakes. Learn about life on a Great Lakes freighter, and dive into some incredible shipwrecks that you don’t necessarily need a scuba tank to see in the Great Lakes’ only national marine sanctuary.
Lake levels rise, COVID’s in wastewater and invasive species weave new food webs.
Nature is both fragile and fearsome. In the Chicago River, fish populations have suffered since the river became a steel-lined channel, but can floating garden islands restore a more natural habitat? Our region offers spectacular night sky views, but will new satellites mar their beauty? And how are Great Lakes parks coping with COVID-19 and record-setting lake levels?
The health of the Great Lakes is inextricably linked to the health of the rivers that feed them. In northern Minnesota, one river faces environmental threats from a proposed mine. In Michigan, a second river is unleashed when aging hydroelectric dams are removed. In Indiana, a third river is protected from invasive Asian carp, which have infested rivers further south.
Learn more about a little-known Chicago shipwreck that took more lives than the Titanic. Check in on the Kalamazoo River’s wildlife 10 years after the Line 6B pipeline spilled over a million gallons of oil there, and find out if COVID-19 means no basketball tournament in 2020 for four Great Lakes island schools.
Large-scale dairy and animal farms fuel the annual toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie — are regulation loopholes contributing? Record-high water levels are costing lakefront towns millions of dollars, and the Midland dam breach came…
As stay-at-home orders end around the Great Lakes, does Wisconsin’s experience opening businesses predict anything for other tourism-dependent communities? How are researchers, reef restorers and hydroponic farms reacting to the pandemic? Plus, with an increase…
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.
Rebuilding Chicago’s iconic lakefront, managing Buffalo’s rainwater and sewage, and tracking the annual algal blooms in Lake Erie are all part of the Great Lakes region’s effort to manage the impacts of climate change. This month, Great Lakes Now takes you to meet the citizens, city leaders and scientists who are working on these issues.
This year’s warm winter boosted ice-fishing tourism in one part of the Great Lakes while potentially spelling disaster for businesses depending on colder weather. Catch up with the communities in our documentary “The Forever Chemicals,”…
Winter doesn’t stop work around the Great Lakes. See what happens at the Soo Locks when they close for maintenance, and drop into the chilly water with commercial divers who battle the zebra and quagga mussel invasions in the lakes. In a warmer setting, join us in the Mackinac Island school gym for a tournament just for island school teams.
Travel with Great Lakes Now to the remote Canadian research station where scientists are working to understand – and protect – freshwater. Go deep into Lake Huron to see mysterious sinkholes, and watch as some homeowners try to save their Lake…
A ship anchor in April 2018 struck three of American Transmission Co.’s six cables, which moved electricity between the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula.
‘The middle of a massive contamination’: Residents of Wisconsin region struggle with aftereffects of dangerous ‘forever chemicals’
Four years after a facility disclosed water contamination in the surrounding community, residents and locals deal with the impact of PFAS.
Microplastics act like a chemical sponge, soaking up contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals. Those chemicals, in turn, appear to be causing deformities in larval fish.
Each spring, as many as 10 million walleye leave the deeper areas of Lake Erie and ascend the Detroit River in search of rocky substrates to spawn on, creating a fishing frenzy known throughout North America.
The 240-pound, nearly 7-foot-long sturgeon, assumed to be a female, was quickly released back into the river after being weighed and measured.
Researchers are trying to figure out if climate change will increase the number of meteotsunamis in the summer.
Enbridge, with the support of Canadian officials who say Line 5 is essential to their economy, is resisting Gov. Whitmer’s order to shut down the pipeline. The disagreement comes months after U.S. President Joe Biden upset Canada by canceling the Keystone XL oil pipeline project.
The court said the state Department of Natural Resources should have set a fixed period for the permit to mine, rather than leaving it open-ended.
The Great Lakes Now Series is produced by Rob Green and Sandra Svoboda.
Digital Designer: Shelby Jouppi
Digital Video and Photography: Rob Green, Zosette Guir, Matt Ilas, Zachary Irving, Sandra Svoboda, Jim Toscano, Barry Walton, Jordan Wingrove and Courtesy of WPBS-TV, NOAA/Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Captain Neil Schultheiss, the J.W. Westcott Co., Andy Morrison, Canada Steamship Lines, Tom Weldon, Thousand Islands International Council.
Website Writing: Natasha Blakely, Rob Green, Sandra Svoboda