Written by Jen Finn
August 13, 2013
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission estimates that more than 40 million people in the US and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for food, drinking water and recreation. A state-of-the-art research vessel the "Muskie" is currently making its way through Lake Erie collecting data samples for the US Geological Survey.
The 70-foot long vessel isn't your average boat. It's rigged with advanced sonar and noise reduction technology and high-end microscopes for testing fish samples. Director of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center Russell Strach says the boat has everything you'd find in a lab and more.
"It also has hydroacoustic capability that's a technique where you can essentially penetrate sound into the water and get an image of the fish or schools of fish, we can actually identify to species based on those sound waves and determine general abundance and density," said Strach.
Strach says the USGS researchers aboard the vessel are on Lake Erie to monitor the fish population for evidence of invasive species and environmental changes.
"The scientific data that we're gathering is mostly used to ensure that these species are around for many generations to come. It's for the sustainability. It's so that the states and the province can set harvest restrictions at the right levels, so that commercial fishing remains robust and sport fishing remains healthy," said Strach.
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