The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Glaciers as Artist...

While on Kelleys Island in Lake Erie, I hiked to the Glacial Grooves State Memorial.
When I give lectures about the Great Lakes, I always mention how these lakes were formed during the last ice age by a series of glaciers that came down from the north to scour out the lake basins. On Kelleys Island, you can see the handiwork of the glaciers stretching over this preserved 3 acres that still clearly show the hand of the glaciers.

These grooves scoured in a limestone bed thousands of years ago are the most famous glacial grooves in the world.

Much of this area was covered in glacial till (dirt and rocks deposited by the melting glaciers) until the 1970s. Excavation was a meticulous process. Today, an almost 400 feet long stretch of grooves is exposed and protected for us all to marvel at.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Lake Erie Water Snake

Once threatened, now on the rebound!

While exploring the islands in Lake Erie, I stopped in at Ohio State University's research center on South Bass Island.

I met with Kristin Stanford (The Snake Lady) in her newly renovated lab.

Renovated lab for snake research

The Lake Erie Water Snake (LEWS) was classified as threatened -- and almost made the endangered list -- back in the late 1990s. At one time it was estimated that fewer than 2,000 of these snakes were living on the Lake Erie Islands. 

The "Snake Lady" Kristen Stanford

The subspecies of this snake that lives out on the islands, Nerodia sipedon insularum, has possibly the most restricted range of any snake in the world as it just lives on a handful of islands in the lake. A related subspecies lives along part of the Lake Erie shoreline, but these are generally darker in color and only make it out to the island if they stowaway on a boat (which they occasionally do).

The population of the LEWS has rebounded to over 10,000 on the islands. Conservation and education efforts have helped restore their numbers. The round gobi, an invasive species of fish, has also helped the coming over for dinner.

Do we owe the round goby our gratitude?

These jars (below) are filled with the stomach contents from captures and released LEWS. Virtually every meal eaten by these snakes consisted of round goby. This invasive fish has flourished in Lake Erie. It is estimated that there are 35 of these fish for every square meter of lake bottom near the islands. 

The LEWS no longer has to search far for a meal!

Round Goby -- it's what's for dinner!

Snake tag (implanted under the skin)

Work with the LEWS is ongoing. The process of gathering and tagging the snakes was featured on an episode of Dirty Jobs.
Learn more HERE.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The World's Largest Celestite Geode

I've taken a hammer to quite a few geodes in my life, but I had never seen anything like this underground geode on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. 

Discovered in 1897 when islanders were trying to dig a well, this geode is filled with massive celestite crystals comprised of Strontium Sulfate (SrSO4).

This geode has room for over a dozen people 

Surrounded by crystals!

The geode/cave is privately owned 
and is called the
Crystal Cave.

Crystals up close -- each crystal has 14 faces

This is the largest single crystal in the cave -- it weighs nearly 200 pounds

These are the largest known celestite crystals in the world.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Battle of Lake Erie!!

The Niagara

My current adventure has transported me off the shoreline and out onto the ISLANDS within our Great Lakes.

This Labor Day, I traveled to South Bass Island's Put-in-Bay to take part in the bicentennial reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie. This naval engagement between the Americans and British was a turning point in the War of 1812.

Sixteen tall ships gathered in Lake Erie for this event which was the largest reenactment of a naval battle in American history.

Cannon fire!

My ship had a tiny cannon

It was fascinating to take part in this Great Lakes event.

The Lynx

The Niagara fires from both sides

"We have met the enemy, and they are OURS!"

Check out the video below for glimpses of the action!

{This experience will be part of my next book

A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes

Due to be released in 2015.