Friday, February 25, 2011

Sturgeon Spearing Season Starts Big

Primary Wisconsin DNR reports coming out of Winnebago and Oshkosh are in. The third and fifth largest sturgeons have been added to the record books, which were started in 1941. Weighing 185 and 172.7 pounds respectively, these two female record fish are among seven sturgeon that have been added to the books in the last three years. A list of the top ten fish can be seen here.

Overall, 881 fish were caught during the first three days of the season. Out of those fish, 52 weighed over 100 pounds. Big fish are being caught because of DNR regulations that went into effect to protect the larger fish and increase their presence in WI lakes. The total maximum number of days the season could stay open is 16, and official are saying this is very likely. The final day of the open season will then be this Sunday, February 27th at 12:30pm. Read the full DNR release for more information.

Photo from the WDNR news release.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - Great Resource for Coastal Literacy

The new Lake Superior Reserve, part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA), was dedicated in October 2010. This beautiful spot is described as "a combination of four distinct land areas and portions of connecting waterways in Douglas County, in the northwest corner of Wisconsin where the St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior." The new reserve will include research and public education opportunities.

To get teachers started teaching coastal literacy, NOAA has a great website called According to the website, "Estuaries.Gov helps educators bring the beauty and the importance of estuaries into classrooms and educational programs. This site provides, primarily, an avenue for elementary, middle and high school students, and their teachers, to learn more about estuaries, research, and explore NOAA’s “living laboratories” - the National Estuarine Research Reserves." can be found at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Aquatic Sciences Chronicle

There is a new issue of the Aquatic Sciences Chronicle now available online. The newsletter is a one-stop source for the latest news from the Aquatic Sciences Center, the administrative home of UW-Madison’s Sea Grant and Water Resources institutes.

In t
his issue, Carolyn Rumery Betz describes the launch of a new online Wisconsin Coastal Atlas. She describes the atlas as "...more like an electronic toolbox filled with a variety of Web applications designed to help guide decision-making about coastal management on the Great Lakes."

Also in this issue is an article on using new technology to record groundwater movement. Jean Bahr and David Hart are using fiber optics to see
the effects of water withdrawals from layers of bedrock, including shale and sandstone, particularly if they affect critical discharge zones such as springs. Watch the video to learn more.

Take a look at the full issue online.

Happy reading!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WLA Library Legislative Day

This coming Tuesday, February 22, 2011 is Library Legislative Day. The goal of the event is to send a clear message to the Governor and legislators that libraries are crucial to Wisconsin's economy. This is a state advocacy event on library issues that is held in Madison. State funding is key for all library types in Wisconsin (academic, public, school, etc.) and is therefore crucial for Wisconsin citizens and our livelihood.

How does this affect library school programs and different library types:

  • About 20% of the budget for public universities and their libraries comes from state revenue.
  • Public libraries depend on state funding to support public library systems.
  • School libraries depend on state funding through the Common School fund.
  • All of these libraries use: Badgerlink (state-licensed databases funded by State Universal Service Fund)
  • Library Service Contracts (Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, Wisconsin Library Services (WiLS), Milwaukee Public Library/ Interlibrary Loan (MPL), and Cooperative Children's Book Center (assists with intellectual freedom))
  • Broadband 
  • Statewide delivery 
For those unable to attend the event, there is also Virtual Library Legislative Day which allows you to e-mail, call, or write to your legislator on February 22nd.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phosphorus Use : Problem with a capital P

Overuse of the agricultural fertilizer phosphorus has led to pollution of lakes, rivers and streams, in addition to the potential shortage of the chemical element worldwide. Number 15 on the periodic table, phosphorus was discovered in 1669 and found to glow in the dark. This may explain some of bright colors that can be seen in algal growth stemming from phosphoric pollution.
When excessively used, this fertilizer can be carried away in runoff to nearby bodies of water, and results in algal blooms. It can also be found causing issues at improperly run wastewater treatment facilities. The algal blooms in freshwater make the ecosystem unstable and also lower the water quality. An overabundance of phosphorus is also a cause of eutrophication. This means that too many plants grow and take the oxygen out of the water which puts fish and other aquatic life in danger as well as degrading the quality of the water. Scientists are debating how changing agricultural practices relating to phosphate may affect pollution of surface waters. For further information, read the UW-Madison press release. The caption for the photo posted above and another algae photo can be seen here.

Photo credit: UW-Madison Communications, Bryce Richter

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why a bubbler? : History of the drinking fountain

Kohler, WI was the birth place of the infamous bubbler. Invented in 1888 by the Kohler Company (then known as Kohler Water Works), this model of drinking fountain shot an inch of water straight up. Imagine a mini version of a traditional fountain, but with the intent of offering a drink. Over time, the ability to shoot at an angle for increased drinking ease appeared as well as competing products with other names. The name bubbler is still owned by the Kohler Company, and they still sell an improved version of the original today.

Bubbler is commonly used today in WI to refer to a standard drinking fountain of any kind. The term is also used in some of the North East including parts of Rhode Island, Boston or Worcester, and also in New South Whales, Australia. Though it may not be understood in other areas, it has become such a novelty in WI that the state Historical Society (WHS) has created T-shirts to sell that on the front state "It's a bubbler" and on the back say "Fountains are where you throw coins."

Photo credit: Amy De Simone

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

USGS Great Lakes Basin Study

A recent USGS study focuses on the water of the Great Lakes Basin, the world's largest freshwater system. While there is no overall shortage of water in the system at this time, as water is taken from different parts of the system it is slow to replenish itself. This means that if groundwater is used near Milwaukee, the surrounding water levels will not significantly decrease in order to replenish that groundwater. In the Milwaukee and Chicago areas groundwater levels have decreased as much as 1,000 feet. Anticipated future pumping could decrease these levels even further.

This knowledge is very important to developers, planners, and anyone interested in the well being of the Great Lakes system. It is also part of a larger, five year research project currently being undertaken by the USGS aimed at "understanding the impact of climate variation on water use, lake levels, streamflow and groundwater levels" (USGS release). In addition to this study, the Groundwater Resources Program is also studying groundwater availability nationally. Major findings from the Great Lakes Basin pilot study can be found here.

Image credit: GLIN

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Great Lakes Literacy Principles

Awarded "Site of the Month" by Great Lakes Information Net-work (GLIN), Great Lakes Literacy Principles, prepared by the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, is a website that explains "essential principles and fundamental concepts for Great Lakes learning" and further matches those concepts with Ocean Literacy ones. It breaks down eight specific concepts about the Great Lakes and helps to explain the importance of peoples' interactions with the lakes.

The eight areas which are broken down range from what are the Great Lakes and how were they formed, to the influence of climate and weather on the lakes, to the types of species that inhabit the lakes, to connections between the lakes and what can be learned from the Great Lakes. The site also has a handy pdf brochure that explains the concept of Great Lakes Literacy and the eight areas from the website. This site is endorsed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Sea Grant and can be a helpful resource for teaching or learning about the Great Lakes.

Image from

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Shortage of Fish Fry Favorite: Yellow Perch

Sad news for the crew of the Barney Devine, a sea vessel being retired and replaced by a newer, more technologically advanced ship, Coregonus. The Barney Devine set out to record the number of yellow perch in Lake Michigan, but returned with a hole in her hull and a remarkably smaller number of recorded fish than previous years. Since the survey area was the same as previous years some researchers are unsure of the cause of the fishy decline. Some blame quagga, a mussel inhabiting the bottom of the lake, known to consume plankton, a valuable feeding resource for young perch. The DNR will not be changing bag limit (number of fish that can be caught) on yellow perch for the time being. For further information, see the WDNR news release.

Photo credit: WDNR website