Boating, Diving & Beaches

Sunset on Mackinac

Stephanie of Stephanie Stevens Photography recently added a few timelapses from Mackinac Island to the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. About her incredible timelapse of Mackinac Island harbor at sunset, she writes:

Hour & a halfish time lapse of Mackinac Island as the sun goes down, with ferries coming & going, horse carriages & bicycles on the streets, people in the park, & even some glowing Frisbees. :)

Watch it in HD and definitely check out Stephanie’s Flickr, her photography site and also a timelapse of stars at Arch Rock. More from Mackinac on Absolute Michigan.

Stay Safe in the Great Lakes!

Information from Great Lakes Waves offer beauty, power & danger on Michigan in Pictures…

Every year the Great Lakes claim the lives of dozens of swimmers, boaters & surfers. Here are some tips for staying safe on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie!

Untitled by Scott Glenn

Thinking of any of the Great Lakes as anything like any lake you’re familiar with is a mistake. They are freshwater seas that can pack  incredible power. They are stronger than you and can end your life in an instant if you don’t respect them.

Frankfort Winter Surfing
Frankfort Winter Surfing by lomeranger

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit dedicated to drowning prevention that keeps track of drowning statistics: 74 in 2010, 87 in 2011, 101 in 2012 and 39 so far in 2013. (you can also keep up with them on Facebook)

Kayaking by Clarkston SCAMP

Life jackets can save your life.  U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 90% of the people who drown in a boating or water accidents would survive with a life jacket.

Cold Lake Michigan
Cold Lake Michigan by GLASman1

Cold kills! Hypothermia is a danger all year round on the Great Lakes. Click that link for tips on how to stay alive if you do end up in the water.

Lake Michigan Memorial
Lake Michigan Memorial by kmoyerus

Rip Currents (sometimes called “undertow” or “rip tide”) are a big danger on Michigan beaches accounting for the majority of drownings. Michigan is 4th in rip current related fatalities behind Florida, California, and North Carolina – we have “ocean force” rip currents. Learn how to beat them in this video.

Choppy Channel......
Choppy Channel…… by smiles7

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offers comprehensive Great Lakes marine forecasts.

"September Gale"  Grand Haven Breakwater Lighthouse is located in the harbor of Grand Haven, Michigan
“September Gale” Grand Haven Breakwater Lighthouse by Michigan Nut

The MyBeachCast smarthphone app can predict waves and warn you of hazardous conditions.

Tubing on Lake Michigan
Tubing on Lake Michigan by Steve Gifford – IN

Stay safe and have fun – treated with respect the Great Lakes are a safe and fun playground for all ages!

Do you have more tips? Share them in the comments!

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    North Country Dreamland: Northern Lights and the skies of Northern Michigan

North Country Dreamland: Northern Lights and the skies of Northern Michigan

I am going to guess that the video below is the most incredible thing you will see today, and quite likely for many days. There’s lots more about photographer Shawn Stockman Malone of Lake Superior Photo and this project below, but first please settle back, click the full screen view at the bottom right and enjoy her amazing video, North Country Dreamland.

North Country Dreamland from LakeSuperiorPhoto on Vimeo.

Walking on the Beach with Loreen Niewenhuis

“I’d rather do 20 miles on soft sand than 10 miles on the side of the road. There is something about being where water meets land. I feel very clicked-in there. I feel like I can go forever.”

~Loreen Niewenhuis

USA Today has a feature on Loreen Niewenhuis, a Battle Creek resident who has hiked a good deal of the shorelines of all the Great Lakes. As to why, she explains:

“Our older son had gone off to college. The nest was emptying. I’d gotten my” master’s of fine arts degree … “but I felt I could stack up novels and not have an agent and be in my office writing novels forever,” says Niewenhuis, 49. “So I thought, let me do something completely different and get out of my office.”

So she put on her hiking boots. She got out the office.

Boy, did she ever.

Click through to read more about her journey and what she learned along the way. You can keep up with Lorraine’s latest including a planned walk on 1000 of Michigan islands on her Facebook page and at

This photo is “Footprints”, Twelvemile Beach, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by Michigan Nut. Twelve Mile is certainly one of the state’s best beaches. See John’s photo out on black and see more in his My Favorites slideshow.

Lakes MichiganHuronSuperior & Erie? Michigan in Pictures has them and all kinds of beach photos!

Invasive Lobsters overrun Lake Michigan Coast

EMPIRE, MICHIGAN APRIL 1, 2013 – Residents of the sleepy Michigan shoreline villages of Empire, Glen Arbor and Leland were surprised as they awoke to see the Lake Michigan beach covered with the latest Great Lakes invasive species to threaten our shores, lobsters.

Dr. Molly Trapp, director of Michigan Sea Grant’s new Invasive Species Rapid Response team (ISRR), is heading the team and was one of the first to arrive on the scene. “There are a variety of ways that invasive species enter the Great Lakes,” Dr. Trapp explained. “Many come in in ballast water of freighters are are dumped, while others are pets that people release when they can no longer care for them. That’s likely what happened here, and I just wish people would think a little bit before they take on the responsibility of an exotic pet.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Under Superintendent in Charge of Beach Security, Stan Daround offered comment as well, “We want to assure everyone that we remain the most beautiful place in America despite this crustacean invasion. Park staff is working on a plan to combat this menace.”

lobster-dinnerWhile Mr. Daraound was unable to provide specifics, he offered that the Park would probably be asking for “a lot of bibs and some of those claw cracker things” in their emergency appropriation request.

The village of Empire, already overtaxed preparing for their annual Asparagus Festival next month, has called all residents to an emergency eating in the Empire Town Hall at 6 PM.

Area resident Michael Buhler offered a simple plea: “Send butter.”

For more on invasive species in the Great Lakes (including actual facts) visit Michigan Sea Grant’s Invasive Species pages.

The impact of record low Great Lakes levels

This post originally appeared on Michigan in Pictures.

Low water levels, West Arm Grand Traverse BayOn Michigan in Pictures I usually blog beautiful things, but today I’m featuring an ugly thing that we in Michigan should all be concerned about. Traverse City based Circle of Blue has an in-depth feature on the record-low level of Lake Michigan-Huron:

The latest numbers released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 5 show that both lakes Michigan and Huron — which are two connected lakes — are experiencing their lowest point since records began in 1918. Water levels were an average of 175.57 meters (576.02 feet) for the month of January, approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) lower than the previous record set in 1964.

“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the Corps, in a press release. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below-average levels since 1918 for that lake.”

The low water levels, which the Corps attributes to: below-average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, last summer’s drought, and above-average evaporation during the summer and fall of 2012, have the potential to hurt the Great Lakes’ shipping industry.

…For the water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron to reach even near-average water levels again, the Corps said it will take many seasons with above average precipitation and below-average evaporation.

Read on at Circle of Blue for much more including the struggles that wildlife are having with the changing climate. You can also view the release from the Army Corps of Engineers and see historic Great Lakes levels back to 1918. From the Army Corps, I learned that at 1 1/2 ft below normal, ships are losing 8-10% of their carrying capacity.

Beyond harm to the multi-billion dollar shipping industry which feeds countless industrial endeavors, the low lake levels are making many of our recreational harbors inaccessible. These feed our multi-billion dollar sport fishing industry and  this has prompted Gov. Snyder to endorse a $21 million emergency dredging plan, $11 million of which would come from Michigan’s general fund. With over a half a million jobs in Michigan alone tied to the health of the Great Lakes, getting a handle on the threats that impact them are likely to be at the center of our policy and spending for a long time.

In a curious bit of synchronicity, you can see just how vital the Great Lakes are to Michigan in Michigan Sea Grant’s reports on Economic Vitality and the Great Lakes. View this photo bigger and see more in their Grand Traverse Bay Low Water slideshow.

Lots more Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.

Freshwater Fury: The Great Storm of 1913

Dear wife and Children. We were left up here in Lake Michigan by McKinnon, captain James H. Martin tug, at anchor. He went away and never said goodbye or anything to us. Lost one man yesterday. We have been out in storm forty hours. Goodbye dear ones, I might see you in Heaven. Pray for me. / Chris K. / P.S. I felt so bad I had another man write for me. Goodbye forever.

~A message found in a bottle 11 days after Plymouth disappeared, dictated by Chris Keenan, federal marshal in charge of the barge

Charles S Price upside down, 1913

Wikipedia says that the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, also known as the “Freshwater Fury“or the “White Hurricane”, was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that ravaged the Great Lakes November 7-10, 1913. With the sinking of 19 ships, the stranding of another 19 and a death toll of at least 250, it remains the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster in Great Lakes history.

800px-DetroitNews-11-13-1913Major shipwrecks occurred on all but Lake Ontario, with most happening on southern and western Lake Huron. Lake masters recounted that waves reached at least 35 feet (11 m) in height. Being shorter in length than waves ordinarily formed by gales, they occurred in rapid succession, with three waves frequently striking in succession. Masters also stated that the wind often blew in directions opposite to the waves below. This was the result of the storm’s cyclonic motion*, a phenomenon rarely seen on the Great Lakes.

In the late afternoon of November 10, an unknown vessel was spotted floating upside-down in about 60 feet (18 m) of water on the eastern coast of Michigan, within sight of Huronia Beach and the mouth of the St. Clair River. Determining the identity of this “mystery ship” became of regional interest, resulting in daily front-page newspaper articles. The ship eventually sank, and it was not until early Saturday morning, November 15, that it was finally identified as the Charles S. Price. The front page of that day’s Port Huron Times-Herald extra edition read, “BOAT IS PRICE” DIVER IS BAKER “SECRET KNOWN”. Milton Smith, the assistant engineer who decided at the last moment not to join his crew on premonition of disaster, aided in identifying any bodies that were found.

You can get a map to the wreck of the Charles S Price, and here’s a list of shipwrecks of the 1913 storm and an account of the weather. You can see more photos from Wikipedia and also in Lakeland Boating’s slideshow of some of the on and offshore damage from the Freshwater Fury (includes a shot of the Price prior to its sinking). GreatLakesShips has this excellent tribute to the ships and crews that didn’t weather the storm below and you’ll also want to check out this interview with survivor Edward Kanaby.

*The Great Lakes storm of October 2010 had cyclonic wind patterns as well.

More at and even Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures (where this post originally appeared).

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    Invasive species (and some divers) threaten Michigan’s shipwrecks

Invasive species (and some divers) threaten Michigan’s shipwrecks

Jon Gaskell of the Capital News Service had an interesting feature about how invasive species are threatening Michigan shipwrecks.

Valerie Van Heest, director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates in Holland, said those conditions make Michigan one of the best states for underwater exploration.

“A new shipwreck discovery that is shared with the public can generate an immediate tourist draw to the region,” Van Heest said. “These tourists infuse dollars in food, gas, lodging and land-based attractions.

“Consider the 1996 discovery of the wreck of the Three Brothers at South Manitou Island. That discovery brought reportedly over 1,200 people to the island that summer alone, specifically to dive or snorkel the shallow wreck,” Van Heest said

…But cultural and economic resources like these wrecks are deteriorating, according to the DEQ. The department blames human intervention and invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels.

Read on for more. The  you can find much more about Michigan shipwrecks on Absolute Michigan. For some contrast between what the here’s a wreck near South Haven encrusted with mussels and the much more pristine wreck of the Bermuda near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore below.

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    The Daily Michigan: 2 tickets to the Great Wakes Festival in Traverse City

The Daily Michigan: 2 tickets to the Great Wakes Festival in Traverse City

Friday Flash! We’ve got 5 pairs of tickets for tomorrow night’s 5-10 pm entertainment at the Great Wakes Festival. If you’re interested, just send an email to We’ll randomly select 5 winners at noon!

Today on The Daily Michigan we have 2 tickets to this weekend’s inaugural Great Wakes Festival from Porterhouse Productions.

The 2012 Great Wakes Festival is a brand new event that comes to the Traverse City bayfront June 1 & 2, 2012. In addition to music from local and regional musicians including That 1 Guy, Heatbox, Funktion & Garrett Borns, the event features all kinds of water-themed education and competitions including water education & expo, stand-up paddleboard race, a zany Great Wakes Beach Race, Wakeboard Aerials & Pro Competition, demos and much more.

One of the highlights is a 21-up local beer & wine tent that features wines from Traverse City’s amazing wineries and beer from Kalamazoo Brewing, North Peak & Arbor Brewing. Click the poster to the right for more.

Many of the daytime events are free, but to make sure you can enjoy it all, we have 2 Friday & Saturday evening tickets (available only in advance – winner MUST be 21 years of age or older). Head over to Porterhouse Productions for all the information and to purchase tickets and check below for Grand Rapids’ own Garrett Borns doing Mitten.

Click here to sign up (and to learn how you can win)

Great Lakes ice coverage down 71% in past 40 years

March 2012 Ice on the Great Lakes (NOAA)
March 2012 Ice on the Great Lakes (NOAA)

In Continued ice loss on the Great Lakes may cause widespread change in ecosystems at the Great Lakes Echo, Jennifer Kalish writes that a lack of winter ice is increasing evaporation which can harm our economy by affecting shipping and can also pose big problems for species like whitefish that rely on ice cover for spawning. A new study by Research Ice Climatologist Jia Wang has found that Great Lakes ice coverage has decreased by 71% in the past 40 years. Lake Ontario is tops with a reduction of 88% since 1973 with Superior not far behind at 79%.

National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration research ecologist Henry Vanderploeg explains that while it’s clear there are impacts, a lack of research on the topic leaves a lot of unknowns. Our very mild winter raises the level of concern:

“We’ve never seen water this warm this soon, ever,” said Vanderploeg. “We’re into a new temperature area that we’ve never seen before. We don’t know whether the fish will benefit from it or not.”

Less ice allows the water to warm earlier, speeding growth of invasive species like zebra mussels and quagga mussels. Mussels are sensitive to temperature changes. Just a few degrees change in temperature can cause them to eat phytoplankton twice as fast, Vanderploeg said.

And phytoplankton are the foundation of the food web, producing energy for many Great Lakes species.

The earlier mussels feed on phytoplankton, the quicker the rest of the food web will be robbed of their fair share, he said.

Read on for more, and also watch this great video from NOAA about how our changing climate can impact the Great Lakes.