The Lake Char prepared today for its spring surveys throughout Lake Superior.

The boat is a DNR operated research vessel that conducts surveys of fish populations in Lake Superior from Isle Royale along the coast to Grand Marais. The crew will survey details of fish populations such as diet, reproduction and weight.

Kevin Rathbun, Captain of the DNR research vessel Lake Char, said, “It gives biologists an idea of how healthy the fish population is. From that they can assess quotas for the commercial fishermen, the tribal fisherman and the recreational fishermen.”

Once the crew on the Lake Char finish their spring survey they will almost immediately begin work preparing their summer survey. This is due to the delay in getting the vessel in the water due to Lake Superior’s prolonged ice cover.

“We’re an aluminum hull vessel,” Captain Rathbun said. “Aluminum and ice don’t mix real well with one another; as well with that we have several transducers on the hull and we’re a shallow draft, about four and a half feet. If you get ice bouncing off your hull you can rip a transducer off; it can get into the props, ding up your props. Overall, the ice is not good for boats.”

The boat is scheduled to depart either Friday or Monday, at which point it will travel to Isle Royale, then circle back to Houghton, eventually coming through Marquette and Grand Marais.