Ancient Strain of Lake Trout Discovered in Elk Lake

What do we like? Good news stories about the environment, and here is one about lake trout that we like a lot.

Fish researcher Jory Jonas, of MDNR’s Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station, was on a fish-sampling excursion on Elk Lake in summer 2016 when she noticed the two lake trout brought up in the trap net did not look like the gazillion hatchery lake trout she’d seen during the course of her career. “I started asking questions,” she says. And after some follow up research that included DNA testing, she and her team came to realize they had discovered a remnant population of native lake trout, a species that had long been presumed extirpated from the Lake Michigan basin. Elk Lake is a deep (192 feet at deepest point), 12-square-mile lake about 10 miles northeast of Traverse City. The lake empties directly into Lake Michigan, but a dam protected the lake’s fish from the sea lamprey that decimated Great Lakes trout in the 1930s and ’40s.

Hear Jonas discuss the finding and what it might mean for restocking lake trout populations in Lake Michigan by watching this video, produced by Joe VanderMeulen at NatureChange.org, an organization devoted to telling the stories of Northern Michigan’s evolving natural environment and of people devoted to protecting it. “Like” NatureChange on Facebook.


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