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      Study examines fish population in Lake Superior

      As summer comes to an end, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) researchers surveyed lake trout on Lake Superior.

      The crew is made up of the following: Shawn Sitar is a fisheries biologist, Daniel Traynor is a fisheries technician, Chris Little is the assistant captain, and Kevin Rathbun is the captain of the research vessel the DNR calls Lake Char.

      The crew's final stop was Grand Island, near Munising, to collect lake trout for research.

      "Most fisherman these days use monofilament gill nets. This is actually a multifilament gill net, and it's what the study has been using for the past 20, 25 years," said Rathbun.

      After a couple of hours and a few stops along the way, the crew finally reached the waters near Grand Island.

      "Right now we're just kind of laying the net out so that it's easier and it doesn't lay on top of each other and get tangled up," said Little.

      The net is about 140 feet deep into Lake Superior and this is what they're after: it's a lake trout. Once they're netted, they're thrown into baskets and it's time for the research to begin. The size, weight, and age is recorded into a database. Stomach contents are also collected to study the fish's diet. The fish are gutted and two specific bones are removed from the head of the fish.

      "The bones are called the otolith. There's one on each side of the brain in the little groove so you cut the head pretty much off at a 45 degree angle and then with the tweezers, reach in and grab the bones. Then we save those and in the winter we age them to see how old the fish are," said Traynor.

      Research continues into the winter as biologists make sure there is a sustainable fish population in Lake Superior.

      "This is monitoring the health of fish populations in Lake Superior. So when we sample, we're collecting fish from the fish community and then we'll be able to aid management by understanding their trends and population components over time," said Sitar.

      Their mission was to collect information on lake trout and study the health, diet, and population of the fish.