In hot(ter) water
By Dominic Adams
The Bay City Times (MI)
Published August 11, 2005
Nicole Chartier looked out across Lake Huron as she lounged
in the sun at the Caseville County Park beach.
It was her 17th birthday, and the lake's temperature
was just right.
"It's perfect," said Chartier, a Bay City Western
High School student. "I hate it when the water is
But is the water too warm?
Surface temperatures of the Great Lakes are measured
by Coastwatch - a program that records environmental data
and real-time observation of the Great Lakes. It is a
combined effort by the Michigan Sea Grant Network and
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The current temperature for Lake Huron is around 71.6,
according to Coastwatch. The temperature at this time
last summer was 65.8 degrees.
In Caseville, the water was nearly 79 degrees Tuesday.
Amanda Wise pulled her chair into the water in order
to stay cool while getting her tan at Caseville's county
"(The water) is a lot warmer than usual," said
Wise, 18, of Gagetown, as waves bobbed over her shoulders
and torso. "Usually the water's chillier, but the
weather isn't any different."
Observers fear that increasing temperatures in both the
air and the water this summer could lead to an even more
intense algae bloom on Lake Huron.
"We almost always get an algae bloom in late August,
and certainly high temperatures are a factor in that,"
said Rochelle Sturtevant, extension educator at the Great
Lakes Sea Grant Network in Ann Arbor. "The late August
blooms are usually a type of blue-green algae."
Sturtevant said the Bay City area usually sees microcystis,
a liver toxin that can lead to sickness if large volumes
are consumed. She said it is easily identified.
"It looks like someone took a green paintbrush across
the top of the water," Sturtevant said.
But while she warned beach-goers to stay away from any
water with visible algae, she also said it would likely
cause only a skin irritation - a swimmer's itch-like rash.
It isn't just researchers who've noticed the high water
Capt. Dan Manyen, of Walleye Express Charters in Essexville,
said he can tell the water is warmer. But it isn't necessarily
changing his fishing techniques.
Manyen said there are other factors that come into play
when stalking walleye - like the presence of bait fish
and the water's oxygen level.
"To really put your finger on what catches fish,
you have to stay flexible," he said. "I've been
in the hot ponds when it's been 90 degrees and caught
one walleye after another. Walleye will tolerate any kind
of heat as long as there's food."
But Manyen said the ideal surface water temperature for
netting a trophy catch is 73 degrees.
Sturtevant said everything in the lake is tied together.
"All of biology is temperature-sensitive,"
she said. "Higher temperatures are going to increase
bacteria growth, they are going to increase metabolic
rates for anything living in the lakes.
"It also affects where there are going to be fish,
so they are going to be seeking out cooler waters."
But any algae bloom won't keep Penny Bastian on the shore.
Bastian drove from Kingston on her day off to play in
the sand at Caseville with her 1-year-old daughter, Kali.
It was the first time this summer that the pharmacy technician
was able to get away.
"I'd probably wade through it to the clean water,"
- Dominic Adams is a staff writer for The Times. He can
be reached at 894-9647 or by e-mail at email@example.com.