Stories tagged Lake Superior

Apr
01
2010

Scroll discovery: While paddling about on Lake Superior last summer, these two kayakers found more than just a pack of otters. They found some mysterious scrolls.
Scroll discovery: While paddling about on Lake Superior last summer, these two kayakers found more than just a pack of otters. They found some mysterious scrolls.Courtesy Wikipedia
Two kayakers skirting along the south shore of Lake Superior last summer were just trying to find a place to get out of a sudden rain burst. Little did they know that they’d soon make what could be considered the greatest archaeological discovery of the 21st Century.

While waiting out the storm inside a hollowed out cave along the rocky shores of Superior near Bayfield, Wisc., the kayakers decided to explore a little bit around their new shelter, they found a pile of five rolled up deer skins. The top two were pretty moldy and crumbled in their hands but the bottom three were intact and completely amazing. While the outer sides of the hides still had traces of deer hair on them, the inner sides were tanned to a very smooth surface and had mysterious symbols written on them.

The kayakers, 20-something guys who wish to remain anonymous as they were paddling the Lake Superior waters without the proper permits and licenses, tucked their new-found treasures into their kayaks and paddled back to their launch point. From there, they drove immediately to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. One of the kayakers was the former student of Dr. Jonathan Nordquist, a professor of linguistics at the college.

Messages from Vikings?: Initial analysis of "The Lake Superior Scrolls" show that they have no religious connotation, but appear to be epic tales of Viking adventures in the New World.
Messages from Vikings?: Initial analysis of "The Lake Superior Scrolls" show that they have no religious connotation, but appear to be epic tales of Viking adventures in the New World.Courtesy Wikipedia
Nordquist, who specializes in Scandinavian and other northern European languages, was stunned. There had always been this “side rumor” to the Kensington Runestone controversy that Viking explorers who traveled the Great Lakes had left other traces of their exploits. Unfurling “The Lake Superior Scrolls” – as they’re now being called – he found runic characters that were similar to those on the runestone, but not exactly the same. Carbon dating testing done on small sections of the corners of the scrolls found that they date back to about the year 1032, around the same time that Vikings were exploring the North American continent.

After cross-referencing runic writings found across the globe in England, Italy and Greece, Nordquist started to unravel the messages encoded on the Lake Superior Scrolls.

“Unlike the famous Dead Sea Scroll, the Lake Superior Scrolls seem to have no religious or spiritual context,” Nordquist is quoted in today’s edition of Science Illustrated, where the full findings of the discovery were announced. “Rather, they message seems to be the lyrics of song, probably sung while sailing the open waters.”

A Viking sailing song?: A linguist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth was quickly able to recognize that the characters on the scrolls were similar to Viking runes, often found on runestones around the globe.
A Viking sailing song?: A linguist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth was quickly able to recognize that the characters on the scrolls were similar to Viking runes, often found on runestones around the globe.Courtesy Wikipedia
Allowing for some differences between the original language and today’s English, here’s what Nordquist has translated a section of the first scroll to read:

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home

Ole Ole, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Ole Ole, oh baby
Me gotta go

“What’s absolutely fascinating is that this appears to be the earliest known version of ‘Louie, Louie’ the classic rock-and-roll song,” continued Nordquist. “And when you consider the instrumentation available to Viking musicians of that era, you can hear the root sounds of that classic song.”

An old, but effective, warrior: The text of Scroll 3 tells the tale Favre the Gray, an old but effective warrior who led Vikings to victory long after people thought he was capable. Notice the intimidating pink shoes he wears.
An old, but effective, warrior: The text of Scroll 3 tells the tale Favre the Gray, an old but effective warrior who led Vikings to victory long after people thought he was capable. Notice the intimidating pink shoes he wears.Courtesy Wikipedia
On scroll two, Nordquist has not been able to make a breakthrough with the completely different style of runic writing it carries. But the third scroll has even more fascinating information, he said.

“It appears to be an epic tale, the story of an old, but gallant warrior who led his fellow Vikings on many successful missions,” Nordquist said. “But this Viking, despite his age and graying hair, could just not decide if he’d be able to give up the Viking lifestyle. He would sit by the docks where his ship was tied up weighing the pros and cons of doing another conquest while all of his younger charges would encourage him to take on one more mission. But alas, the time passed to set the line-up of voyage. But while the supplies and weapons were being loaded on the ship, this grand old Viking – going by the name of ‘Favre the Gray’ on the scroll – changed his mind, boarded the ship and led another hugely successful mission while the displaced captain – Jackson the Younger – held a clipboard at the back of the ship.”

Further details on information gleaned from The Lake Superior Scrolls will not be made public until exactly a year from today….April Fool’s Day 2011.

Yellow submarine: While the Beatles' Yellow Submarine looks very funky, the actual research yellow submarine cruising about in Lake Superior is much more plain.
Yellow submarine: While the Beatles' Yellow Submarine looks very funky, the actual research yellow submarine cruising about in Lake Superior is much more plain.Courtesy Wongx AT
In a collision of Beatles and Gordon Lightfoot song topics, an unmanned, small yellow submarine is puttering about the depths of Lake Superior, providing lake quality data to researchers back on shore. Launched earlier this week, the seven-foot-long, $74,000 device is on a two-week test run to see if it can prove to be a more cost-effective way of monitoring the lake's water quality than by using people on boats.

Is the sub's color a tribute to The Beatles? Not really. Creator Jay Austin of the University of Minnesota-Duluth told the Star-Tribune: "Yellow's the international color of research. It's an easy color to see in the water, so it's very typical to paint your equipment yellow. I've got a research buoy that's the same color."

And so far into the mission's run, no sign of any Blue Meanies in the great waters of Gitchigumi.

Jan
11
2009

Cargo ships carry invasive species in ballst water
Cargo ships carry invasive species in ballst waterCourtesy AviatorDave
A recently released report warns that the Great Lakes have been invaded by foreign aquatic species resulting in ecological and environmental damage amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Monitor, detect, and take required action

The findings support the need for detection and monitoring efforts at those ports believed to be at greatest risk. The report identified 30 nonnative species that pose a medium or high risk of reaching the lakes and 28 others that already have a foothold and could disperse widely.

The National Center for Environmental Assessment issued the warning in a study released (Jan 5, 09). It identified 30 nonnative species that pose a medium or high risk of reaching the lakes and 28 others that already have a foothold and could disperse widely. (click here to access report)

Flush out ship's ballast tanks with salt water

One preventive measure that works 99% of the time is to flush out the ballast tanks with salty sea water. This usually kills any foreign marine life hitch hiking a ride in the ballast tank water. Both Canada and the United States have made this a requirement for almost two decades now. Both nations also recently have ordered them to rinse empty tanks with seawater in hopes of killing organisms lurking in residual pools on the bottom.

Learn more about invasive species in the Great Lakes

Jun
20
2008

Since 2005, an ebola-like virus has been killing fish in the Great Lakes. A major die-off was recently reported near Milwaukee, affecting some 30 species. While the disease does not affect humans, it could devastate sport and commercial fishing in the region. Though the disease has not hit Lake Superior yet, it is starting to spread out from the Great Lakes region, thanks to infected fish swimming into rivers and streams.