Sustaining the Freshwater Sea

Telling the story of the largest Great Lake is an ambitious task. However, Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute Audio Specialist Chris Bocast does it justice with a seven-part series of podcasts about Lake Superior that brings listeners underwater to shipwrecks in the Apostle Islands and features the calls of waterfowl in the St. Louis River Estuary.

Topics covered in “Sustaining the Freshwater Sea,” describe UW-Sea Grant initiatives that help foster and sustain the economic and environmental vitality of Lake Superior. They include harbor steel corrosion, coastal land use and a wave sensor safety project at the Apostle Island sea caves. UW Sea Grant graduate students Josh Anderson, Sarah Wilkins and Luke Loken are a special focus of the series as they describe their experiences working with seasoned Sea Grant researchers, staff and partners.

Rich and sometimes otherworldly piano music composed by Bocast is accented by Lake Superior sounds he recorded in the field. His original music underscores and emphasizes the pristine sense of Lake Superior described by podcast participants. Bocast uses sometimes humorous, sometimes serious background audio to spice up the narration: from a ferry ride he took in the Apostle Islands to the beeps and blips from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise that dress up the Geographic Information System command center at UW Sea Grant.

Bocast is finishing his Ph.D. in environment and resources through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison, focusing on acoustic ecology and the role of sound in the environment. He also teaches geography at the UW-Rock County in Janesville, Wis., maintains an active music and audio production schedule and just released his third album.

One of the podcasts incorporates video shot by Sea Grant Videographer John Karl that highlights the storage of dredge materials in the Duluth-Superior Harbor. The podcasts range between 14 and 23 minutes each. Download them for free from the audio section of Wisconsin Sea Grant’s website or from I Tunes U.

A new series on Lake Michigan that will complement “Sustaining the Freshwater Sea” is underway.