The Inland Mariners: Special / R/V Kiyi

R/V Kiyi

The research vessel Kiyi, operated by the Lake Superior Biological Station at Ashland, Wisconsin, makes an annual circumnavigation of the lake as part of an ongoing census of fish populations in Lake Superior.

The following images are from the 2004 spring fishing survey of Lake Superior.

photo courtesy: Lake Superior Biological Station


R/V Kiyi
Built 1999

Patti Shipyard, Pensacola, Fl

Length: 107 feet
Breadth: 28 feet
Draft: 10 feet
Speed: 10 knots

The Kiyi underway off the north shore of Minnesota

The crew of the Kiyi consists of a combination of fishery biologists and the vessel's navigation team.

The primary mission of the spring lake survey is to gather census information on forage fish populations around the lake. This is accomplished using a trawl net at predermined "stations" along the shore.

Trawl net being pulled back to the Kiyi

Sorting fish in the Wet Lab (Black Bay, Ontario)

Once the fish are aboard the vessel they are sorted by species, counted, weighed, and measured in the vessel's Wet Lab.

The information gathered at each trawling station is cataloged and recorded in the Kiyi's Dry Lab. Once the Kiyi has returned to its home base in Ashland the data is then entered into the LSBS's database and made available to fishery managers and researchers.

Analyzing information in the Dry Lab

Ponar Grab at Rainboth Point

The biologists are interested in not only the fish population, but what the fish each as well.

Deck foreman Keith Peterson (L) prepares for a "ponar grab," lowering the clamshell device that will grab a soil sample from the lake bottom.

Biological Technician Lori Evrard (R) collects zooplankton samples gathered off Thunder Bay's Pie Island. The samples are preserved for study back at the research station.

Zooplankton sample

Setting the trawl net at Red Rock
The crew of the Kiyi works four to five stations each day, averaging about twelve hours work from start to finish, rain or shine. Deck foreman Keith Peterson, and Northland College biology student Lindsey Lesmeister prepare to set the trawl net at Station 454, Red Rock River Bay, Ontario.

To maintain the integrity of the data each trawl, or "transect" is laid out on exact coordinates, with a specified distance, course, and depth. In the pilot house Captain Joe Walters and First Mate Mike McCann are in constant communicatin with the trawl deck as they monitor each transect.

Captain Walters (R) and Mike McCann (L) in Black Bay.

Dan Yule monitors the hydroacoustic data during a transect

In addition to the annual census the biologists also conduct research based on their particular areas of interest. Fishery biologist Dan Yule is a specialist in the use of hydroacoustics and is using sonar to study the forage fish populations in Lake Superior. On each transect, for instance, Dan monitors the hydroacoustic data and then compares it against the fish census gathered from the trawl.

Jason Stockwell, the Kiyi's lead biologist on this trip, is working on a pilot study of the lake's forage fish biomass. The purpose of the study is to more accurately determine the forage fish populations in the lake, information that fishery managers need to help regulate commercial and recreational fishing, while protecting the lake's natural resources.

Dan (L) Jason (R) preparing Zooplankton nets at Jackfish Bay

The Kiyi's 700 gallon live well is used to hold fish until they can be released back into the lake.

Fishery management is a cooperative effort between the United States, Canada, and various tribal fisheries. The sharing of information helps dissolve political boundaries and establish working relationships for all sides of the equation.

Dan Katajamaki and Russ Bobrowski, students working for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources out of Thunder Bay jumped at the chance to spend a day on the lake aboard the Kiyi.

On the eastern end of the lake, OMR Wawa District biologists come aboard to observe and talk management strategies with the biologists on the Kiyi.

Captain Joe Walters

Nathan Hanes
(District Biologist, Wawa)

Marcel Pellegrini
(Management Biologist, Wawa)

Stephen Chong
(Assessment Biologist,
Sault Ste. Marie)

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources visitors

The lake trout, once nearly decimated by over fishing and the predatory sea lampray has made a tremendous return to Lake Superior, in a large part due to the efforts of the program conducted by the Lake Superior Biological Station, a field station operated by the Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The lake herring is one of the primary food sources for mature lake trout. A healthy forage fish population, which includes fish such as herring, smelt, bloater, and kiyi, is important to maintaining a balanced Lake Superior fishery.

Herring at Sawyer Bay, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Station 466: Richardson's Harbor

The days are long and the work is never ending, the spectacular scenery of Lake Superior manages to weave its way into every day. While the biologists are focused specifically on fish, the lake's entire ecosystem is always considered when it comes to managing our natural resources.

Le Pate, at 860 meters, towers above the lake as the Kiyi approaches Station 403.

Station 403: Pie Island

Anchorage: MacGregor Cove

The sun sets behind Vrooman Island, in the tranquility of McGregor Cove on the eastern shore of Lake Superior.

Lori Evrard
Biological Technician

Joe Walters

Mike McCann
First Mate

Lindsey Lesmeister
Biology Student

Dan Yule
Fishery Biologist

Jason Stockwell
Fishery Biologist

Keith Peterson
Special thanks to the crew of the R/V Kiyi

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