CMU Students Work to Solve Mystery of Disappearing Lake Whitefish
There’s a mystery on the Great Lakes and it’s one that students at Central Michigan University are trying to help solve.
CMU biology students are putting in detective work to help solve the mystery of disappearing lake whitefish.
But their numbers are dropping. Younger ones remain plentiful for sure, but the adults are getting scarcer.
State and federal agencies, and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, are also on a quest for answers.
Students at CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island are taking a hard look at juvenile fish this summer.
The adults spawn in November and the young hatch in spring.
The juveniles are then in deeper water by mid-July.
That means May, June and early July are perfect times for CMU students to take water samples along the Beaver Island shoreline.
One of the possible causes they’re piecing together is the relationship between the whitefish and the round goby, a tiny fish that invaded the Great Lakes in the late 20th century.
Adult lake whitefish are known to eat round gobies, and one of the students said he’s hoping to see if adult round gobies are eating young whitefish.
One thing the researchers say is that the decline in whitefish isn’t a crisis – for now. But it is a concern that needs to be looked into, which is what the students are attempting to do.