Summertime, and the living’s easy…

Ok, so maybe summertime doesn’t give most of us reprieve from long hours and a constant barrage of emails, but it sure seems to make those things more tolerable. And if you’re wise enough to take some time for yourself and get outside, you can almost feel the stress melt away. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to accomplish this than a trip to Lake Erie, Ohio’s greatest natural resource.

Gabriel Lake Erie 2016-06-23

The view from my temporary office at Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island near Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

I admit to some bias, as I’m writing this from beautiful Gibraltar Island while teaching the Lake Erie Sport Fishing course at Stone Lab. But there really is something for everyone up here on the north shore. How about a trip to Cedar Point, recognized as one of the best amusement parks in the world?  If adrenaline isn’t your thing, how about visiting one of the many local wineries popping up along the Lake Erie shore?

Into history? Come to Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island and check out Perry’s monument and learn how pivotal this part of Ohio was in the War of 1812. And make sure to stop by the Aquatic Visitors Center run by Ohio Sea Grant & Stone Lab. If you come on a Wednesday, make time to take the tour of Stone Lab and say hi to us. The tour runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the $10 fee supports student scholarships.

And of course there’s the fishing and boating. There’s a great resource available from our friends at Coastal Management that lets you find all the public access spots along the lake. Don’t have your own boat? Check out the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association website to find a charter captain, or call in to your destination county Visitor Bureau (like the Ottawa County Lake Erie Shores and Islands office) to see who they recommend, or get a ton of other ideas. Local bait shops are great sources of information too.

If none of these ideas suit you, don’t forget to consider the beautiful beaches, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboards, parasailing, sailing, camping, bird watching and so many other opportunities that await you here along Lake Erie’s shore. Do yourself a favor – make the quick drive north this summer. Sometimes the water is all you need to cleanse your soul.

Tory Gabriel is the Extension Program Leader & Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Boaters (and everyone else)

Clean Marinas 2015-12-10

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Spring is here and it is time for cleaning! When it comes to cleaning, the best practices for boaters are also easily transferable to our lives at home, at work, and in the community. Now is the time of year I send reminders to our marina and boating community about these best practices for keeping our waterways clean. Below are a few of my favorites that I take with me wherever I go.


  • Use non-toxic, phosphate-free, and biodegradable cleaning products. You’d be surprised how well baking soda and vinegar work on tough stains! Find our list of alternatives to toxic cleaning products here.
  • Become knowledgeable about disposal procedures for waste and hazardous materials at work and in your community.


  • Clean up all trash, dust, and debris immediately following any maintenance or repair activity. Dispose in your regular trash at home or in designated receptacles at your local solid waste management facility.
  • Use a drop cloth to catch dust and debris when working over unpaved surfaces. Sweep up debris on paved surfaces when finished.

Marine Debris:

  • Make sure trash cans have lids and are emptied regularly.
  • Recycle cans, glass, newspaper, and other products, and ultimately try to reduce trash by switching to reusable items.
  • Do you know where your nearest storm drain is located? Make sure that it is cleaned regularly and only rain goes down the storm drain.

You can learn more about these and other tips for protecting our waterways through our Clean Boater Tip Sheets, available through the Great Lakes Clean Marina Network, online at the Ohio Clean Marinas Program website and on Facebook.

Happy cleaning!!

Contact: Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas Program, (419) 609-4120,

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Program Manager, Ohio Clean Marinas Program, Ohio Sea Grant)

Ahoy! Sea Grant goes to the Mid-America Boat Show

What do you get when you combine the Ohio winter doldrums with a growing interest in boating and watersports? A ready-made audience at the Mid-America Boat Show.

Amidst freezing cold winds and heavy snowfall, Ohio Sea Grant Educators and thousands of others made their way to the IX Center in Cleveland for the Mid-America Boat Show a few weeks ago. It is an annual tradition, having taken place for over 25 years, bringing together water lovers, boaters, adventure seekers, and all facets of the boating industry to learn, buy, sell, trade, and catch up.

Boat Show 2016 #1 2016-02-18As one of the many educational exhibitors at this event, Ohio Sea Grant was thrilled to be able to teach about the importance of a healthy Lake Erie to the Boat Show 2016 #2 2016-02-18many visitors that attended. Stationed next to a singing pirate and personal watercraft simulator, we had some stiff competition. However, neither could stand up to the fright, ick, “Oh geez! That’s a live snake!” factor of our Stone Laboratory snakes and the al“lure” of tying your own hook for catching walleye. These were two of the many activities available to kids and adults at our Lake Erie information hotspot. Show wanderers could spin a prize wheel to be asked questions about general Lake Erie topics, decorate a fish to add to the #loveyourlake twitter campaign, sign up to be a clean boater, and peruse a selection of outreach materials and goodies rivaling the collections of the Library of Congress.

Boat Show 2016 #3 2016-02-18As you might imagine, visitors were mainly concerned about invasive species, harmful algal blooms (HABs), and actions they can take in their everyday life to reduce their footprint, houseprint, or boatprint on the lake. Below are some of the simple tips for keeping Lake Erie healthy that we shared with boat show visitors…they can apply to you as well…

  • Clean, drain, and dry your boat when you move it to different waterways.
  • Pick up trash as you see it and responsibly dispose of or recycle your own items.
  • Take aquarium pets and plants back to the pet store or offer them to a school if you no longer want them.
  • Reduce or eliminate the fertilizer you place on your lawn.
  • Plant a rain garden at the end of your driveway or near your gutter spouts to reduce the amount of water running off of your property.

(Submitted by Jill Bartolotta, Extension Educator for Ohio Sea Grant)


al“lure”: Chis Pluntz, Pro Anglers. 2009. Tying hooks – Building Walleye or Trout Spinner Baits and Crawler Harnesses. Video:

#loveyourlake: Twitter. 2016. #loveyourlake. Website:

HABs: Ohio Sea Grant. 2014. Harmful Algal Blooms. Website:

(Photo credits: Ohio Sea Grant)

Choose a Clean Marina

Clean Marinas 2015-12-10

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Wherever you live in Ohio, you probably are a boater or you know a friend or family member who enjoys boating. Ohio has over 450,000 registered boaters, ranking in the top 10 of all states in the U.S., and for good reason. Whether you have a coworker who kayaks in a Scenic River, an uncle who fishes an inland reservoir or a friend who goes sailing on Lake Erie, there are many ways to explore Ohio’s waterways. There are also many marinas who rely on these waterways and contribute to our local economies by attracting visitors who frequent our hotels, restaurants, and local businesses.

Ohio Sea Grant, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association partnered to implement the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to encourage marinas and boaters to use simple, innovative solutions to keep Ohio’s coastal and inland waterway resources clean.

Clean Marina Flag - croppedSince 2005, 48 marinas in the Lake Erie watershed have been certified for adopting environmental best management practices, or BMPs. We are excited to announce that with strengthened ODNR partnership through the Division of Watercraft, we are now able to certify any marina in the Buckeye State. By engaging marinas in protecting the very resource they rely on for a successful business, we hope to help ensure our waterways are enjoyable for boaters of all kinds for years to come. So keep a lookout for those marinas “flying the flag” of the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, and encourage a marina near you to join. Choose a Clean Marina, and help support efforts in Ohio and beyond to protect and enhance our waterways.

Lake Erie Watershed marinas and boaters wanting to be part of this initiative should contact Sarah Orlando at or Jenny Roar at Marinas and boaters in the Ohio River Watershed should contact Heather Sheets at

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Program Manager, Ohio Clean Marinas, Ohio Sea Grant)

BR&E Program focuses on Lake Erie Marina Industry

LE Marina BRE Report

Click on the image above to view the final report.

Attraction of new businesses is a highly visible activity in most community economic development programs. Yet research has shown that a community’s existing businesses account for up to 70% of all net change in local employment, and up to 86% in rural areas. This, among other reasons, is why the retention and expansion of existing businesses has become an essential activity of many local and regional economic development programs.

Recognizing the importance of local marinas, the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management in conjunction with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program established a Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) Program to assist these companies in achieving their growth objectives and to improve the overall business environment of Ohio’s Lake Erie Marina Industry.

The program aims to:

  •  Identify and address concerns and issues of existing businesses by creating a value-chain of partners, including local and state government as well as private organizations and enterprises
  • Identify opportunities to stimulate local job growth
  • Establish and maintain long-term relationships among public and private entities associated in some way with Ohio’s Lake Erie marina industry

To read more about this program or to view the final report, click here. To learn more about the Ohio BR&E Program, visit Ohio State University Extension’s BR&E website.

(Submitted by Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program)

Ohio Sea Grant and Lake Erie Nature & Science Center continue long-time partnership in Northeast Ohio

What covers nearly 10,000 square miles, many of them comprising parts of eight Ohio counties in northern Ohio? In addition to creating a natural land/water boundary of over 310 miles in length, Lake Erie is a key focus area for Ohio Sea Grant and the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center (located in Bay Village, Cuyahoga County).

“The partnership between the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and Ohio Sea Grant has been alive and well for nearly 30 years and continues to be an important relationship for a Center so close to Lake Erie,” says Darci Sanders, The Center’s Director of Education. “The expertise of Sea Grant staff is the perfect match to increase the effectiveness and efficacy of programming provided by our own talented staff.”

Lake Erie Day #2 2015-04-16

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant

Ohio Sea Grant’s focus on research, education and outreach for the Lake Erie region is a great fit for the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, which offers high-quality nature, environmental and science experiences through school field trips, preschool, family, scouting and planetarium programs, nature hikes, and a variety of exhibits connected to its expansive wildlife rehabilitation program.

The Center’s staff and Ohio Sea Grant are working on hands-on informal science information sessions for 2015 that will feature experts on a variety of Lake Erie topics. Most recently, they hosted a workshop for faculty from Cleveland and Columbus that provided information, curriculum and supplies for teaching about aquatic invasive species in the classroom.

Family Fishing Day 2015-04-16

Photo: Ohio Sea Grant

On May 17, Family Fishing Day, children ages 6 and up and their families can enjoy a morning learning the basics of how to cast, where to fish and what kind of fish they’ll catch in Lake Erie. May 23 is Lake Erie Day, part of the Year of Clean Water Celebration, where visitors can celebrate all things Lake Erie. Ohio Sea Grant staff will be on hand to offer their expertise and interactive activities on aquatic invasive species, harmful algal blooms, boating and water recreation, beach safety, Lake Erie water snakes and more.

For more information, please contact Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator, Sarah Orlando.

Making informed decisions

In today’s world, where any question or problem can be answered by a 0.5 second Google search, it can be easy to get caught up in an information overload and difficult to separate fact from fiction. Truly now, more than ever, I argue that sources of knowledge are needed. Providing unbiased, factual information that is relevant to our stakeholders is the core mission of Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Sea Grant. This is the value and impact that an Extension program can provide.

There are often times when our opinions or foundational knowledge on a topic may be challenged – in conversations with friends, colleagues or family. During these times, I encourage you to utilize your local Extension Educator – we are here to help tackle some of the most difficult topics with factual information, to enable you to make an informed decision.

In Ohio Sea Grant, we focus our knowledge on understanding our Great Lakes water resources and the challenges that come with managing these resources. We have an uphill battle against misconceptions on everything from climate change to zebra mussels, but we fight this battle with the most valuable weapon – knowledge. Our knowledge comes from working with researchers to fully understand an issue and the science behind that issue, and our expertise is in communicating that science-based information in an easy-to-understand format through education and outreach.

Orlando post 2015-01-15 #1

Photo credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Below are just a few examples of ways to access some of Ohio Sea Grant’s science-based, unbiased sources of information:

In 2015, I challenge you to think about where your information comes from, and, if you question its validity – to reach out to those sources of credible information, such as Ohio Sea Grant and OSU Extension, to build your knowledge around a topic. As they say, knowledge is power!

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Clean Marina/Limnology Outreach Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant Program)

Ohio Clean Marinas Program: Growing Businesses and Improving the Environment

Clean Marinas Strip

Is boating in your summer plans? Whether you captain your own vessel or are simply along for the ride, it is important to remember how each of us can help maintain environmental quality. Through the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, marinas and boaters can learn to use simple, innovative solutions to keep Ohio’s coastal and inland waterway resources clean. After meeting a set of required and recommended best management practices, interested marinas can become certified as an Ohio Clean Marina and benefit from the public recognition and compliance assistance that helps grow their business.

Since 2006, the Ohio Clean Marinas Program has been spearheading the Ohio Shrink-Wrap Recycling Program to collect the low-density polyethylene used to cover boats and protect them from the harsh winter weather. Instead of going into landfills, to date more than 2.2 million pounds of that plastic has been collected and recycled by nearly 150 marinas and greenhouses – an excellent example of the potential for boaters and marinas to reduce their environmental impact. That 2.2 million pounds is a lot of plastic!

You can learn more about clean marinas and clean boating at the Ohio Clean Marinas Program website, and don’t forget to Follow us on Facebook!

The Ohio Clean Marinas Program is a proactive partnership among the Ohio Sea Grant College Program and OSU Extension, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, and other public and private sector partners that are connected to Ohio’s recreational boating industry.

(Submitted by Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marinas Program Coordinator, Ohio Sea Grant College Program)