The last day of the Shipboard Science program was full of activity. We packed up, cleaned our rooms, and bundled and turned in our laundry. We enjoyed another amazing breakfast cooked by Craig who the captain said is one of the best cooks on the Great Lakes! As the final day of anything is one of various activity, many of the participants were engaged in various endeavors to tie off and loose ends that they had in place.
We had a plastics presentation put on by David, Patrick, Ashley, Taylor, and Emily. Working with scientist Sherri “Sam” Mason they discovered a number of types of plastic debris in Lake Erie. They found that the abundance of plastics in Lake Erie is dependent on surface currents and that the most frequent type of plastics found were fragments and pellets under 1 mm in size. The plastics were found in high concentrations in all basins and this demonstrates that plastic pollution is a serious concern for the Great Lakes.
We had a zooplankton presentation put on by Lisa, Mary, Marcy, David, Bonnie. Working with scientist Ruth Briland, they spent time working on the bythotrephes that exist within Lake Erie. The Spiny Water Flea is an invasive species that is changing the zooplankton within Lake Erie. This species can feed on other plankton and juvenile fish competing with other natives for food within Lake Erie. They discovered that the density of Spiny Water Fleas were similar in the Eastern and Central Basin and found no water fleas in the Western Basin. This reflects their preference for cooler temperature water. They also discovered no evidence of native species of water fleas and this demonstrates the impact this invasive species is having on native populations.
We had a biochemical contaminates presentation put on by Jon, Steve, Chad, Melissa, Lisa, and Eric. Working with scientist Dr. Steve Mauro, they spent time looking at the biochemical contaminates that existed within Lake Erie. They looked at E. Coli, tricolsan, and fluoxetine. All three of these contaminates have various health risks for humans. They discovered very low Fluoxetine levels in all stations sampled. Tricolsan was found at high levels at one site in the central basin. This finding is significant because it indicates that this chemical is found in the Great Lakes. E. coli concentrations were found to be very low, with the highest number of 16 colonies per 100 mL.
The various groups showed the level of interaction that existed throughout the week. The hard work outside on the deck collecting the samples and the teamwork within the lab examining the samples showed in every presentation. The experience asked a lot of us and we got to see how scientists are keeping us safe with the very important water we need. Each educator with take what they learned from this week back to their classroom and share their knowledge with their students and community with the goal of making citizens that are Great Lakes Literate.