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Lake Superior Love

Lake Superior Day has once again come and gone on the big lake. In case you’re not aware, the lake is celebrated annually during the third weekend in July. Wisconsin Sea Grant was represented by an information table at the celebration held on Barker’s Island in Superior.

Image courtesy of magictricks.com.

About 150 people stopped by to peruse our printed material and to enjoy the mystical qualities of our “fortune teller miracle fish,” a thin cellophane fish that twists and bends in your hand, depending on how damp and warm your hand is. The type of movement it displays reveals your fishy future!

This classic child’s toy also offers a good lesson in science. It’s made with the same ingredients found in disposable diapers (sodium polyacrylate). This special salt grabs onto any water molecules that touch it, changing the shape of the molecule. As the molecules change shape, so does the shape of the fish. The wetter your palm, the more the fish bends.

Lake Superior Day in Superior is hosted by our partners, the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. They offered several activities during the event, including standup paddleboard demonstrations, musician performances, boat rides on the Reserve’s research vessel and micro-science talks (short talks) by river researchers.

One activity I took part in was a tour of the revamped beach at Barker’s Island. The beach has had long-standing problems with bacterial contamination and swimming advisories. The City of Superior spearheaded a project to redesign the beach to mitigate the problems.

The refurbished Barker’s Island Beach in Superior. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Matt Steiger with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources led the short tour, describing all the work that’s been done. This work includes adding new sand to the beach, installing boardwalks and restrooms, planting native plants along the shoreline to discourage beach use (and pooping) by geese, and reconfiguring the parking areas to include pervious pavers, which reduce the amount of storm runoff that goes into (and sometimes pollutes) the water.

It’s an impressive project. The results were immediately evident in the number of people now drawn to a cleaner, healthier beach. The place was packed!

A similar, larger beach restoration effort on Wisconsin Point is also wrapping up this summer. All of this work will help protect Lake Superior and at the same time, increase people’s enjoyment of it.

I also wanted to let you know about a Lake Superior photo resource that Wisconsin Sea Grant offers. If you ever need scenic photos of the lake for any purpose, you can download and use any of the 91 photos from our “Scenic Lake Superior” album on Flickr. Just give us credit when you use them.

A paddleboarder enters Lake Superior from the Madeline Island Lagoon at the town park. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant.