Beach Rangers

In the last two decades, shorelines of Lake Michigan have experienced birds (such as loons, gulls, cormorants, grebes, and ducks) dying due to Type E or Type C botulism. Botulism spores are found in low or no-oxygen habitats, and when the factors are right, these spores germinate and begin to grow bacterial cells that can be toxic and can be passed up the food chain. Scientists are still studying why exactly botulism outbreaks occur and how it affects birds (termed avian botulism), but water temperature, water level, invasive species, and plant decay may be at play.

We’d like your help in tracking avian botulism outbreaks within Grand Traverse Bay. The Watershed Center is working alongside Common Coast, National Park Service, MSU- Extension, Tip of The Mitt Watershed Council, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and United States Geological Survey to track the death of birds potentially infected with botulism. Sign up for our Beach Rangers program to walk priority sections of the Grand Traverse Bay during the months of September, October, and November to help us learn more about this phenomenon.

Read about our 2020 Beach Ranger successes in our 2020 Beach Rangers Annual Report.

For more information, please contact Heather at or 935.1514 ext 3.

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