A steel dock post on a lake near Cotton, Minnesota, shows the same biocorrosion tubercles as those found in the Duluth Superior Harbor. Photo taken in 2020. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant

The calendar has flipped to 2022. Our staff members are ready to tackle new projects in the coming 12 months, which also happens to mark Sea Grant’s 50th anniversary. Before they move more deeply into the new year, however, some staff members took a moment to retain the glow of their favorite 2021 project. Marie Zhuikov shared her thoughts. She’s our senior science communicator.

My favorite project happened right on the cusp of 2021. It all started the previous fall, when I found strange rusty bumps on the steel support legs of our cabin dock. The lumps looked familiar to me because I’d seen similar ones on steel pilings in the Duluth-Superior Harbor. But my dock was on an inland lake in northern Minnesota, far from the harbor. Could the same accelerated corrosion of steel that was happening in the harbor and in Lake Superior be happening in inland lakes?

I knew who to ask about this from interviews for stories that I did about this issue in the past. Some background: Research funded by both Wisconsin Sea Grant and Minnesota Sea Grant determined the cause of accelerated corrosion of steel infrastructure in the Duluth-Superior Port, which was first noticed in 1998. Corrosion of this nature is most often seen in saltwater environments, but Sea Grant work determined it was related to microbial action combined with winter ice scour. Coatings and jackets have been devised, with Wisconsin Sea Grant support, to protect port infrastructure. In 2018-19, the value of harbor assets protected was $5.4 million. An expert panel originally thought the corrosion microbes were only found in Lake Superior waters.

I conferred with Sea Grant researchers and corrosion experts, sending them pictures of my dock legs. The more I dug, the more intriguing and complex the story became. The researchers confirmed the corrosion was caused by the same factors at work in the Duluth-Superior Port. They told me that microbially influenced corrosion problems are not confined only to Lake Superior. Corrosion is impacting steel structures far up the St. Louis River, which empties into Lake Superior, and has been found in several inland lakes.

I wrote a story and produced a podcast about the findings, which led to stories in several local media outlets and magazines. This increased the public’s understanding of the corrosion issue, how to mitigate its effects, and ongoing research efforts to counteract it. My cabin neighbors now know how to keep their dock legs from buckling too soon.

Usually, I get story ideas from scientific journals or research proposals. This story originated because I was paying attention to what was happening out my own back door, so to speak. That’s why it’s my fave for 2021.


The post Sea Grant project faves, Marie Zhuikov first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant


Marie Zhuikov


Sharon displays the Greek-Style Lake Whitefish, sizzling in the pan. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant

For the latest “dish” about Great Lakes fish, you’ll want to listen to “The Fish Dish.” The podcast, co-hosted by longtime coworkers and friends Sharon Moen and Marie Zhuikov, introduces you to the people behind Wisconsin’s fishing and aquaculture industries. Each episode includes a “Fish-o-licious” section where Moen and Zhuikov cook a new fish recipe.

The first episode features Craig Hoopman, a sixth-generation commercial fisherman from Bayfield, Wisconsin. Hoopman shares his beginnings in the business, current challenges, plus his dreams for the future. Also, Eat Wisconsin Fish Outreach Specialist Moen and Science Communicator Zhuikov share their backgrounds in fishing and introduce listeners to the Eat Wisconsin Fish campaign. During the “Fish-o-licious” part of the show, they cook Greek-Style Lake Whitefish at Hoopman’s recommendation.

Tying it all together is ska music by Twin Ports band, Woodblind.

The post The Fish Dish: New Podcast Mixes Friends, Fun and Food first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant

News Releases | Wisconsin Sea Grant


Marie Zhuikov

Birders on Wisconsin Point look for rare jaegers. Image credit: Marie Zhuikov, Wisconsin Sea Grant

The third weekend in September is traditionally a time for beach cleanups by communities in the Great Lakes. Volunteers scour beaches and shorelines for trash as part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Our Sea Grant staff members got in the spirit, participating in cleanups spanning across the state, from Wisconsin Point in Lake Superior, to Madison, to Manitowoc on Lake Michigan.

Marie Zhuikov and Russ Maron on Wisconsin Point. Image credit: Russ Maron

The event on Wisconsin Point featured a twist: birding. Besides being a good time to collect trash, this season offers a narrow window for Wisconsin birders to see parasitic jaegers, fast-flying pirates of the water bird world, as they migrate past Wisconsin Point from the arctic tundra to southern climes.

The “parasitic” part of their name comes from their food-stealing habits. They are categorized as “kleptoparasites,” which means they steal food from other seabirds.

The Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve (FOLSR) took advantage of the timing to invite Jaegerfest birders and FOLSR members to cleanup the beach when they weren’t on the lookout for birds.

Science communicator Marie Zhuikov and her husband have attended many beach cleanups in the past, but never one that combined jaeger-watching. On a calm and quiet Saturday morning, they joined the professional birders and their high-powered spotting scopes.

Dried bee balm flowers. Image credit: Yael Gen, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Zhuikov and her husband had better luck finding trash than birds. Alas, no jaegers were to be seen, although many ring-billed and herring gulls floated serenely in the lake. The duo moved to the end of the point and collected two bags of trash from the beach. The most interesting finds? A single Birkenstock sandal and fireworks debris.

Their efforts became even more impressive with the addition of four other bags of garbage plus a car bumper that others had collected and left bagged near the parking lot. All total, their haul weighed 160 pounds!

Their colleagues editor Elizabeth White, educator Ginny Carlton and graphic designer Yael Gen participated in a more botanical cleanup at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve on the Madison campus. They began by collecting seeds from dried bee balm plants. Gen said they pulled the seed heads off and saved them in paper bags. “If you turn one upside down and shake it, the seeds resemble ground pepper,” she said. The seeds will be used for a class and to reseed other areas of the preserve.

Titus Seilheimer and his sons with one of their beach cleanup finds in Manitowoc. Image credit: Amy Seilheimer

Next, they got a workout clearing an invasive buckthorn thicket along the shores of Lake Mendota using loppers and saws.

Fisheries specialist Titus Seilheimer and his family worked on Silver Creek Beach in Manitowoc. “We typically organize two cleanups per year, spring and fall,” Seilheimer said. “We had two other volunteers for our cleanup for a total of six. We removed 68 pounds of trash. That included two tires for most of the weight. We found fairly typical trash with 40 cigarette butts, small pieces of foam and plastic, shotgun shells and wads, bottle caps and plastic bottles.”

Way to go, Sea Grant staff! You cleaned up 228 pounds of trash, plus gobs of unwanted plants and provided seeds for the future. A commendable effort for one morning in September.

The post Sea Grant staff collect commendable beach cleanup haul first appeared on Wisconsin Sea Grant.

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Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant

Blog | Wisconsin Sea Grant


Marie Zhuikov

By Elise Ertl, University of Wisconsin-Superior

An internship can be a gateway to someone’s future, to a better career, and the beginning of a lifelong learning opportunity. This summer, I was fortunate enough to have had one of those opportunities through the Coastal Science Communications Internship at Wisconsin Sea Grant with my mentors Marie Zhuikov, Moira Harrington and Tim Campbell.

This year, however, the internships through Sea Grant presented themselves a little differently as they were virtual due to COVID-19. Not only was this a new experience for me, but for everyone at Sea Grant. Despite not being able to meet in person, the internship remained equally educational and exciting.

Elise Ertl. Submitted photo

Throughout the internship, I was given a calendar of tasks I was expected to complete day by day. However, I did not know at the time that those tasks would lead me to learning more about science communication than I could’ve imagined. This included what seemed to be a recurring theme for me, getting my foot in the door, exploring different forms of work, and learning the processes of being a part of a communications team. There are so many parts to communication. All of those parts are intersections that connect not only the work of many people within an organization, but at the very base, connect the people themselves. After realizing just how important communication really is, it is hard to imagine where we would all be without it. This was just the beginning of my ten-week long learning process.

My first project was to write an intern news release. I had never written a news release before, but now I was going to do it for eight interns, including myself. This new and challenging endeavor gave me the opportunity to meet and learn more about all of the interns as I contacted each to hear about what they would be working on during their own internships. The intern news release got posted on the Wisconsin Sea Grant website as well as sent to their individual hometown newspapers.

As each intern’s internship continued, so did our communication. Each week, we would attend a “brown bag” meeting where all of us would share their current progress throughout their week. Afterward, just the interns would talk together to share common experiences and bounce ideas off each other. Communicating with the interns made me more aware of my own communication style and led me to become more confident reaching out to people.

As the internship went on, I became constantly reminded of the essence of time. Even when I may feel something is time-sensitive, it probably is not that way for everyone. It is just as important to be patient with people as it is to not be a pushover when it comes to contacting them, especially about interviews.

I interviewed two people over the course of the internship, which was yet another completely new skill for me. I was surprised by the amount of time it took to get an interview, do the interview and write a story. However, in this, I was able to discover what methods work best for me such as using a recorder to recall and sort through information.

Outside of writing and interviews, I was also able to learn how to create podcasts. This work was very exciting especially because of how podcasts are increasing in popularity. I learned the online software, Audacity, and how to use several pieces of recording equipment such as the Sonus iTwo audio box, microphones and headsets. As I worked on the podcasts, I was able to gradually increase in the amount I was able to do. I started initially with editing quotes and narration and, by the last Wisconsin Water News podcast, was able to make a whole podcast almost completely on my own.

Beyond my tasks, I also attended meetings and helped set up meetings as well, giving me a taste of the interworkings of an organization, while increasing my communication skills. The more you practice communication, the less scary the idea becomes.

The skills I learned in this internship are invaluable and are something I can not only apply directly to future careers, but can apply anywhere in my life. I plan to bring the knowledge and skills I have gained from working for Wisconsin Sea Grant with me wherever I go, and I will always remember the people and place who put faith, time and energy into me and guided me through the beginning of the rest of my career. For what I know now and for what I have experienced, I am forever grateful.

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Blog – Wisconsin Sea Grant

Blog – Wisconsin Sea Grant


Wisconsin Sea Grant

Jan. 10, 2020

By Moira Harrington

A Wisconsin Water News podcast won a gold award in the AVA Digital Awards 2019 contest.

A group of second-graders expand their knowledge of Lake Superior through a canoe trip.  A workshop is held about that same lake and its strong and dangerous currents. These different topics share a common thread. Both were subjects of audio podcasts last year. Those podcasts were just named award-winning by an international communications competition known as AVA Digital Awards.

“Connecting teachers and students to the Lake Superior watershed” won a gold medal. It’s about a Sea Grant-funded educational program called Rivers2Lake, which shows children from school districts in Bayfield, Ashland and the South Shore of Lake Superior how nature can be a classroom. The program is run by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

“It takes a family to deal with dangerous currents” won an honorable mention. Interviews are featured with participants and presenters at a workshop held in Ashland about this hidden but potentially lethal hazard.

Podcast Producer Marie Zhuikov said, “The people who I interview are what make these stories so interesting. Instead of the standard phone conversation, I was able to get out of my office and talk to these people in the field, which makes the stories livelier and more immediate.”

Conferred annually, the AVA Digital Awards attract an average of 2,500 entries from around the world. They come from the private sector, nonprofit organizations, public entities and academic institutions. The awards are administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, which consists of several thousand specialists in production, marketing, communication, advertising and public relations, plus freelance journalists.

Wisconsin Sea Grant offers a broad range of podcasts on topics such as lakes Michigan and Superior, groundwater, aquaculture and mercury in the environment. The recent award-winning stories are part of a series known as Wisconsin Water News, which has 20 episodes. The four-to-seven-minute podcasts bring Sea Grant and Water Resources stories alive by featuring the voices of scientists, resource managers, stakeholders and staff in audio presentations of news pieces that are also shared in print or online formats.

Original Article

News Release – WRI

News Release – WRI