Proposals to extend commercial shipping in the St. Marys River (connecting Lakes Superior and Huron) to include winter months have raised concerns regarding its effect on lake herring (Coregonus artedi). Because lake herring spawn in fall and their eggs overwinter in the river and hatch in spring, their hatching success could be impacted by early opening of the locks in spring. Our laboratory studies showed that under the range of turbidities expected in the river due to vessel traffic, lake herring eggs hatched and larvae fed adequately. Field incubation studies produced about 75% survival and 70% hatching success of lake herring eggs at two of three study sites. Collections in the river throughout the month following ice-out showed that sufficient plankton of appropriate size were available to ensure growth and survival of larval lake herring. We did not detect any negative impacts on the early life stages of lake herring as a result of sedimentation in the laboratory or field. However, detailing the spawning sites of lake herring and defining the normal survival-to-hatch in these areas are necessary before making accurate predictions of the effects of early season vessel traffic on lake herring hatching success.
Additional publication details
Effects of pulsed turbidity and vessel traffic on lake herring eggs and larvae