Monday, August 04, 2014

Photos: Copper Harbor celebrates Lake Superior Day 2014 with R/V Agassiz excursions, ROVs, canoe races, picnic, more ...

By Michele Bourdieu

Visitors to Copper Harbor on July 20, Lake Superior Day, board Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz for an educational tour of the harbor. Checking names of passengers (who reserved seats in advance) is Lloyd Wescoat, Copper Harbor resident and project advisor for Michigan Tech's Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative program. At right is Xena Cortez, Michigan Tech environmental engineering student who has been assisting with Michigan Tech's Ride the Waves program (funded by General Motors) -- a series of community activities including public education about the Great Lakes on the Agassiz. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

COPPER HARBOR -- Free educational boat rides on Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz were a popular attraction at Copper Harbor's July 20 Lake Superior Day celebration.

"We're so grateful the Agassiz could come here because it's just never happened in Copper Harbor before," said Lloyd Wescoat, Copper Harbor resident and project advisor for Michigan Tech's Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative program.

During Copper Harbor's July 20, 2014, Lake Superior Day celebration, Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz takes visitors around the harbor to learn how scientists use the boat to study Lake Superior and nearby waterways.

Wescoat noted the 25-minute excursions scheduled between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. were all filled with visitors, mostly from the local Keweenaw area, who were asked to sign up for a specific time in advance. She was able to add an extra ride at 4:30 p.m. but, unfortunately, had to turn some people away after that. For many of the visitors it was a first-time ride on the Agassiz, which holds 15 passengers plus the captain and a scientist.

In Copper Harbor, Michigan Tech doctoral student and researcher Marcel Dijkestra of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was the Great Lakes scientist who offered a presentation on the boat as it cruised around the harbor, driven by Captain Travis White.

Dijkestra spoke about his research in ecosystem modeling.

"We are building an ecosystem model to evaluate the impacts of changes to the ecosystem that can be due to climate, invasive species or nutrient loadings to the lake," he said.

Marcel Dijkestra, Michigan Tech doctoral student in environmental engineering, speaks about the health of Lake Superior to passengers on the Agassiz as the boat cruises around the harbor during Copper Harbor's 2014 Lake Superior Day celebration. In the background, driving the boat, is Captain Travis White.

The Agassiz excursions have been part of several community events scheduled this summer, thanks to the Ride the Waves program, funded by General Motors.*

"The whole Lake Superior Day celebration creates awareness of the importance of protecting the waters of Lake Superior," said Wescoat, who noted this was the second year Copper Harbor has celebrated the event as a community and the first year the Agassiz has been part of it.

Visitors this year also had an opportunity to learn about the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) designed and constructed by Dollar Bay High School students.

This curious young man just happens to be Mathijs Dijkestra, son of Michigan Tech scientist Marcel Dijkestra. Xena Cortez, Michigan Tech student in environmental engineering, helps Mathijs drive the ROV that can be seen in the water next to the dock. He can observe its movements on a computer screen.

Matt Zimmer, left, Dollar Bay High School science teacher, explains the workings of an ROV to Tom Paynter, owner of the Delaware Mine in Keweenaw County. They discussed the possibility of using one of the ROVs to explore what's under the water in the mine.

In addition to these educational activities, Lake Superior Day in Copper Harbor included canoe races, rowing and paddling demos, painting for kids, a copious picnic all day, musicians -- and solo songs by Don Kilpela, Jr., Isle Royale Queen captain and lead organizer of the event.

More photos ...

Lake Superior Day visitors participate in a canoe race in the harbor. Here they are rounding a buoy before rowing back to the dock for the finish ...

Canoe racers head for the finish ...

On the boardwalk visitors cheer for the winners of the canoe race ...

Canoe race winners Gail and Bill Drake of Lac LaBelle paddle toward the dock.

Participants in one of Keweenaw Adventure Company's "Porter's Island Paddle" kayak tours are guided by instructor Ryan Holt (in green kayak). The tour was not officially part of Lake Superior Day, but kayak tours were available that day.

Dan Weirsgalla, also one of Keweenaw Adventure Company's instructors, demonstrates kayaking techniques for Lake Superior Day visitors lined up along the Copper Harbor boardwalk.

Here Weirsgalla demonstrates the proper way to do a kayak "roll."

Terry Smythe, fitness director and founder and coach of Michigan Tech's Rowing Club, demonstrates some rowing techniques for the audience.

Kids have fun painting a model freighter during the Lake Superior Day celebration in Copper Harbor July 20, 2014.

Two Megs painting together -- Meg (Vivian) North, former Grant Township Supervisor and now science and math teacher at Horizons Alternative High School in Mohawk, helps young Meg Ruhonen of Atlantic Mine put finishing touches on her contribution to the model freighter painting.

After a picnic of hot dogs and sausage, corn on the cob, soup, salad, and ice cream served all afternoon in Copper Harbor's 6th Street park, visitors enjoyed some of this special Lake Superior Day 2014 cake to top off a great day!

* Editor's Note:
This is the second in a series of articles about the Agassiz, Michigan Tech's research vessel, and its use in community events for education about the Great Lakes this summer. See our first article in the series, "Adults and kids learn about Great Lakes research, fish food web, marine robotics, more ..." -- posted July 22, 2014.

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