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New ship to help researchers study Lake Superior

Published in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; April 11, 2000
Online at

ASHLAND, Wis. (AP) - A 107-foot ship slated to be commissioned this
month should give researchers studying Lake Superior's health more room
for their work.

The U.S. Geological Survey's R/V Kiyi is leaving its winter home in
Michigan this week. The $2.8 million vessel is nearly twice as long as
the R/V Siscowet, the 54-year-old boat it is replacing.

The 57-foot Siscowet held just five people, and researchers could do
little more than collect, weigh and measure fish. The new ship can
accommodate 10 and has wet and dry labs, so research can go on even as
the crew collects samples.

"We're just beginning to think about what the possibilities are with
this larger vessel - from being able to look at deep-water communities
to providing more effective logistics on our Isle Royale coaster brook
trout work," said Lake Superior Biological Station director Owen Gorman.

"Before this, we couldn't think about bringing other scientists who
could be doing other research while we were sampling fish," he said.
"Now we can. It opens up a whole new realm of things we can look at."

The Ashland station studies the biology and population of Lake Superior
fish, paying special attention to lake trout and the forage fish trout
eat. It also studies the ecological effects of the invading ruffe.

The station is one of eight operated around the Great Lakes by the U.S.
Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based
center studies fish populations, aquatic habitats and coastal
communities around the lakes. It's involved in projects as varied as
re-establishing native clams, restoring marshes, fish genetics and
studying the impacts and control of exotic species.

To conduct research, the center maintains boats on each of the Great
Lakes, including the 75-foot-long Grayling on Lake Huron, the
45-foot-long Musky II on Lake Erie and the 65-foot-long Kaho on Lake
Ontario. The Siscowet sailed to Lake Michigan last fall to replace the
Cisco, which wasn't as seaworthy, Gorman said.

The Kiyi is faster than the Siscowet, with a cruising speed of 12.5
knots compared to the Siscowet's 8.7 knots. The Kiyi's larger size and
more powerful engines will allow it to trawl in deeper waters.

"We are interested in trying to figure out what's going on in the deep
waters," said Donald Schreiner, the Lake Superior area fisheries
supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "We're
real excited; we're hoping these guys get to go out and do some of that.
None of us as individual agencies - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan or
Ontario - can afford to buy a big vessel to go out and do that
deep-water research."

The Kiyi is named for a species of small cisco, 6 to 10 inches long,
formerly found in the deep waters of the Great Lakes with the exception
of Lake Erie. It's now limited to Superior. The Kiyi is scheduled to be
commissioned at a public ceremony in Bayfield on April 28.

Christine Manninen
GLIN Webmaster: http://www.great-lakes.net
Great Lakes Commission
Ann Arbor, Michigan