Great Lakes research vessel to become new museum exhibit


ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan-based research vessel that’s been operating on the Great Lakes since 1947 has made its last official voyage and will be converted into a museum exhibit.

The 50-foot R/V Chinook left the Alpena Fisheries Research Station on Wednesday and spent a day on Thunder Bay, The Alpena News reported (http://bit.ly/2aUEufm ). Its new home will be the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan alongside the fishing vessel Katerine V.

Designed and built by Marinette Marine in Wisconsin, the Chinook evolved along with its role for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. From 1947 to 1968, it was an enforcement vessel monitoring commercial fishing. In 1968, it was converted into a research vessel.

As part of its work, the boat helped monitor native and invasive species — initially examining a declining lake trout population due to the invasive sea lamprey. Originally 42 feet long, the ship was extended by 8 feet when it was converted for research.

“From the stocking of fish to monitoring the different species, it was all very important to the health and protection of the Great Lakes,” said Christine Witulski, Besser Museum executive director.

The DNR donated the Chinook to the museum and fundraising is taking place for the effort to transform it into an exhibit. Witulski said the exhibit will look to showcase several important educational aspects of the vessel and its importance to Lake Huron.

The Chinook’s replacement, the Alpena-based R/V Tanner, began operating earlier this year to support Lake Huron fisheries research. The boat can deploy remotely operated underwater vehicles with cameras to document the bottom of the lakes as well as side scan sonar to map lake bottoms.

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Online:

http://www.bessermuseum.org

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Information from: The Alpena News, http://www.thealpenanews.com

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