The research boating explorations of Melissa Duhaime, assistant research scientist, and her team were documented in a recent article in the Great Lakes Echo. The nautical mission was quite a departure for a fishing boat this summer as the researchers trolled Lake St. Claire for plastics.

Rachel Cable, a master’s alumnus from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, who is working as a research technician in Dr. Duhaime’s lab and undergraduate student Greg Boehm were on board for these excursions, along with Duhaime.

The project, funded by the U-M Water Center, is part of an initiative to engage diverse faculty and researchers to address critical freshwater issues. Duhaime’s project grant of over $270,000 seeks to establish a long-term multidisciplinary research platform to assess the impact of microplastics on Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem health.

Recently, plastic has been documented in the Great Lakes at the highest concentrations seen anywhere on the planet, according to the project summary. Yet, too little is known about the fate of this plastic and its role in ecosystem dynamics to predict the inevitable impacts on one fifth of the world’s fresh water. Therefore, this project takes a cross-disciplinary and multiscale approach to define the ecological and environmental health risks of plastics in the Great Lakes.

Read more about David Brooks, their captain, who is part of an organization called Earthwatch, see photos, and find out how humans are contributing to the problem and what we can do to help in the Great Lakes Echo article. The Great Lakes Echo is produced by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University.

Read more in previous EEB web news

Water Center project description

Related blog posts from the Duhaime Lab blog, Adventures of the Duhaime Lab