It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Al Kristofferson, the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium’s (LWRC) founding Director, on Sunday February 26th, 2023. Al was the face and voice of the LWRC, fighting passionately to form the organization and to keep it running for over 25 years. Indeed, without Al Kristofferson, there would be no LWRC. From the halls of the Freshwater Institute where he worked as a fisheries biologist, to the offices of politicians, Al’s steadfast determination to have a dedicated research vessel on Lake Winnipeg was unrelenting––and successful.
The Motor Vessel (M/V) Namao was originally destined for disposal by Crown Assets as her career as a buoy tender for the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) on Lake Winnipeg came to an end in 1997. However, that fate was not meant to be. The following year, Al had gathered a team of like-minded individuals to form the LWRC and, by 2002, the M/V Namao was ready to carry out her first whole lake, multi-season scientific expedition. In 2005, Al had negotiated the transfer of ownership of the ship from the CCG to the LWRC, and to this day, the M/V Namao has served as the main platform for science dedicated to understanding the ecological status of Lake Winnipeg.
The value of long-term, whole ecosystem science is easily overlooked or trivialized. However, as the changes in Lake Winnipeg continue––extremes in water flow, excess nutrients, the ongoing arrival of invasive species, plastic and other types of pollution––an understanding of how the whole ecosystem is responding to these changes, as well as to mitigative efforts in the watershed, is imperative to successful lake management, from water quality to the fishery. Without a dedicated research vessel, this understanding is simply not possible given the size, complexity, and precocious nature of Lake Winnipeg.
Al not only understood this, he made it happen––for that we are grateful. To celebrate his remarkable achievements and contributions, we will be holding a memorial service aboard M/V Namao in the summer of 2023––details to be posted on the LWRC website. Until then, we will fondly remember Al’s passionate “rants” about the importance of a dedicated research vessel on Lake Winnipeg, one of the world’s largest and most magnificent lakes, and continue to work with his dedication toward ensuring its protection.
Members of the LWRC are invited to attend the AGM on Friday December 2nd, 2022. One of the business matters to be addressed at this AGM will be a revision to our general operating bylaw to increase the size and diversity of our board. If you are a member and wish to attend the AGM, please contact Dr. Gordon Goldsborough (LWRC President) to receive a Zoom link and a meeting package.
The Gimli Yacht Club and Kiwanis Club of Gimli and District are holding a fundraiser in support of Lake Winnipeg. Show your support by clicking the link above where you will find information on the fish fry, auction, and apparel for sale – all proceeds go to the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.
Madelynn Perry is the 2021 recipient of the Dr. G. H. Lawler Memorial Scholarship – shown here happily collecting snowmelt samples from one her sites this spring. Madelynn is a Master’s student at the University of Winnipeg in the Master of Environmental and Social Change program, working under Dr. Darshani Kumaragamage. Her thesis project explores the effects of different soil amendments in reducing phosphorus losses from agricultural fields throughout the spring snowmelt period. Congratulations Madelynn!
The Special Section on Lake Winnipeg is now fully published and available for download at JGLR LW Special Section.
Twelve Manitobans will receive the Order of Manitoba on July 15th, 2021, including LWRC Director Dr. Gordon Goldsborough. Gordon is an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, Department of Biological Sciences with a strong interest in the role of humans on water quality of lakes and wetlands. He is also well-known for his Abandoned Manitoba books and is president of the Manitoba Historical Society. The Order of Manitoba is the highest honour awarded by the province to Manitobans for their outstanding contributions to Province of Manitoba and its residents.. Congratulations Gordon!
The installation of the new engines is going well; however, delays due to Covid have pushed the completion date to approximately the end July. In addition, despite Hnausa Harbour being dredged, water levels are too shallow for dry dock.
Spring & Summer Surveys – the above means that both surveys are cancelled.
Fall Survey – will proceed as scheduled. Due to low water levels preventing dry-docking, an extension from Transport Canada was necessary in order to carry out the ssurvey.
The 2019/20 Dr. G. H. Lawler Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Matthew Thorstensen, a Ph.D. Candidate in Dr. Ken Jeffries lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba. Matt’s research looks at the population structure and body condition of walleye (pickerel) in Lake Winnipeg using genomics combined with physiological, ecological, and environmental data.
The scholarship will be used to cover the cost of the open access fee for one of Matt’s publications in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
PUBLICATION DATE WILL BE EARLY APRIL, 2021
The Journal of Great Lakes Research (JGLR) is the official journal of the International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR), devoted to research on large lakes of the world and their watersheds. The LWRC’s Science Program is working with the IAGLR editors – Drs. Bob Hecky and Stephanie Guildford – on another Special Issue for Lake Winnipeg.
Publication will be in April, 2021.
We are pleased that a record 760 people toured the ship in just three hours at our Open House on board the Motor Vessel Namao on the Canada Day long weekend.
The LWRC offered two scholarships in 2018–2019. Nicole Turner is a graduate student at Lakehead University, studying under Dr. Michael Rennie. Nicole’s thesis is focused on evaluating movement patterns of walleye in Lake Winnipeg by using previously unpublished provincial tagging and fisheries-based recapture data from the 1950s and 1970s, as well as current data derived from an acoustic telemetry study conducted by scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Combined, these datasets will help Nicole evaluate historical rates of exchange between north and south basin walleye, differences in movement rates between dwarf and normal walleye strains, and temporal changes in distribution ranges of walleye. Ultimately, assessing temporal changes and contemporary movement patterns of walleye will help inform current fisheries management practices in Lake Winnipeg.
Rachel Mandryk is an undergraduate student at the University of Manitoba, studying under Dr. Tim Papakyriaku.The objectives of Rachel’s research include (1) constructing a methane budget by estimating the air-sea methane fluxes during the ice-free season; (2) quantifying where the methane is originating from, whether it is of pelagic, littoral or benthic origin; and (3) identifying relationships between methane concentrations and other factors such as the extent of anoxic conditions and the presence of methanogenic organisms, among others. Methane is an important greenhouse gas.
Thomas Gale, grade 7, was the 2019 recipient of the LWRC’s Water Award for his outstanding project called “Microplastics: can washing a blanket pollute the environment?”. He were honoured to have Thomas come aboard M/V Namao twice this summer–first was to share his project to the general public during our Open House, and then as part of the science team for a half day. Congratulations Thomas for an excellent project.
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Herb Lawler, founding Director of the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium (LWRC). Between 1950 and 1988, Herb had an impressive career with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, including an appointment as Director General for the Central and Arctic Region in Winnipeg and acting Assistant Deputy Minister in Ottawa. In his retirement, Herb was actively involved in the founding of the LWRC and served on its board until his passing. In recognition of Herb’s important contributions to the LWRC and Lake Winnipeg, the LWRC’s graduate student scholarship will be re-named the Herb Lawler Memorial Scholarship. Herb is greatly missed.
The Scholarship recipient was Masoud Goharrokhi, Ph.D student at the University of Manitoba. Masoud’s research involved using “sediment fingerprinting” to determine the sources and movement of suspended sediment within Lake Winnipeg – including erosion, tributary inflows, and resuspension.
Miriam Alarie was the 2018 recipient of the LWRC’s Water Award for her project entitled “La rivière Rouge serait-elle la source de pollution du lac Winnipeg?”. Miriam is shown here on board the M/V Namao helping to sort the forage fish catch. Congratulations Myriam for an excellent project.
Dan Richmond, LWRC’s Superintendent of Marine Operations, passed away in October 2016.
On August 14th, 2017, a family ceremony took place on board M.V. Namao to release Dan’s ashes into Lake Winnipeg. Dan’s passion for ships, and especially ship’s engines, resulted in a 35-year career with the Canadian Coast Guard, followed by a “retirement” in the engine room of the M.V. Namao as Chief Engineer, as well as Superintendent of Marine Operations, for the LWRC. Dan is greatly missed by the staff, science group and crew of the M/V Namao.