Lake Michigan Is Going Through Some Dramatic Changes
One cannot deny the beauty of Lake Michigan now more than ever. According to a study that had been conducted over a 14 year period from 1998 until 2012, researchers at the Michigan Tech Research Institute have discovered that lakes Michigan and Huron are now both clearer than Lake Superior. This was determined by analyzing satellite images of the lake over the years.
But it seems now that even though the beautification may be nice visually, the internal facts of it all could be deemed harmful to its original ecosystem. Lake Michigan's once swampy complexion supported a large fishing industry and was also a hotspot for those looking to bag some Trout and Perch. But a study published last year has pinpointed why not only the lake cleared up, but why that may be a very bad thing for life in Lake Michigan,
The researchers conducting the study said limiting the amount of agricultural and sewage runoff in the lake has had a massive impact. Also, the emergence of trillions of invasive mussels who have the ability to filter the entire volume of Lake Michigan in four to six days has had an even greater effect. By filtering the lake, the mussels have nearly wiped out phytoplankton, a single-celled, green algae that serve as the base of the food chain in Lake Michigan.
Robert Shuchman, co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute told the Chicago Tribute why having a clearer lake may not be such a great thing:
Clearer water means less phytoplankton in the water column, and they’re the basic building block in the food web. The idea is, the little fish eat algae, and the bigger fish eat the little fish. There are some folks out there now that think Lake Michigan and Huron could become ecological deserts from a fishing standpoint. The food web could totally collapse because you don’t have the various organisms you need to sustain it.
Luckily Lake Michigan has gone through ecological struggles before and always avoided total collapse. Luckily the scientists have said that this decade the mussel count has gone down by about 40% and some of the ailing fish species that were disappearing are now returning in numbers. I think it's time we do some mussel fishing. I'll bring the garlic, wine, and horseradish.