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Old 05-14-2008, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes

Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes - Ontario - Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes


The hallmark of the IMAX film is the daring camera angle. In Mysteries of the Great Lakes, director David Lickley approaches Niagara Falls conventionally at first.

He mounts an IMAX camera on a low-flying helicopter to take the viewer down a brief stretch of the Niagara River and over Canada's Horseshoe Falls, perhaps the Great Lakes' most famous feature.

"Then we set up a huge crane shot," Lickley says of his crew of 10. "We stuck the camera out over the edge of Goat Island (between the American and Canadian falls).

"We panned along, and right off the edge looking straight down," he says of the stomach lurching view. "On IMAX you try to get those moments that are special."

- John Goddard
May 14, 2008
John Goddard
Staff Reporter

Like buffalo blanketing the prairies, giant sturgeon once filled the Great Lakes.

They were one of the world's largest freshwater fish, growing to a whopping 130-plus kilograms like toothless ocean sharks and living for up to 200 years.

In spring, they made spectacular spawning runs, with thousands of giant females simultaneously laying eggs in shallow streams.

Then the population crashed.

"Somewhere in the 1800s, people figured out that sturgeon eggs could be turned into caviar and that a mature sturgeon can hold 15 to 20 kilograms of eggs," says biologist and filmmaker David Lickley of Sudbury, director of the IMAX film Mysteries of the Great Lakes.

"By the late 1800s, the caviar industry had all but wiped out the Great Lakes sturgeon."

Survivors currently number about 20,000 down from 1.5 million.

Lickley's film, just opened at the Ontario Science Centre, traces the efforts of one biologist to save them from the brink of extinction. It shows Wisconsin scientist Ron Bruch, along with a galvanized local community, helping mature females to spawn, most spectacularly a female thought to be born in 1885 and still productive.

"I had no idea about this," Lickley said of the giant fish in an interview yesterday from Sudbury, where he works as senior producer at Science North's large-format film unit. "There were five or six stories that came as a shock to us when we were doing the research."

The sturgeon narrative runs through the film as a unifying theme, linking tales of other wonders previously little-known to Lickley, to most Torontonians, and to nearly 40 million other people living along the edge of the giant lake system.

The film also tells of a herd of 600 rare woodland caribou inhabiting an island off Terrace Bay, Ont., 10 kilometres into Lake Superior.

It tells of the rebound of the bald eagle, all but wiped out on the Great Lakes in the 1950s by DDT use in pesticides, and now facing a new toxic threat.

And it tells of shipwrecks, most famously the sinking of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald in a storm on Nov. 10, 1975 with the loss of all 29 crew, a tragedy commemorated in the rousing Gordon Lightfoot ballad, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

The Lightfoot song underlies the entire score, with the addition of 60 musicians drawn mostly from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Typically for an IMAX film, the music and everything else is outsized.

The lakes are great. The sturgeon are giant. The photography is beyond spectacular. And the world's largest film format still uses cameras weighing 30 kilograms, as huge and unwieldy as when the medium was introduced nearly 40 years ago.

"That's what you spend a lot of time doing getting the camera from A to B and then keeping it steady," Lickley says.

Although the film is consistently upbeat and awe-inspiring, it also carries a serious environmental message, the filmmaker said.

"The message of the film for me is that the Great Lakes are an amazing treasure," he said. "We want to take you beyond the 10 kilometres of beach area you might know, or the 100 kilometres of shoreline at Toronto...

"There are 16,000 kilometres of shoreline on the Great Lakes," Lickley said. "We want to show you what is at stake why this is an amazing resource and why we have to protect it."

Mysteries of the Great Lakes is playing at the Ontario Science Centre.
"I'll see you all next Saturday..."
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes

I'm going to try to get to the Science Centre to see this sounds amazing even if it didn't have The Wreck in it..
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:54 PM   #3
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Default Re: Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes

Sounds great, good find Next Saturday.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes

I would like to see the film. I like sturgeons. I've held a few, untangling them from nets to let them go. Not only do they look ancient, I really felt they were intelligent in a wise, understanding kind of a way as if they knew I had respect for them.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:32 AM   #5
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Default Re: Putting the 'great' in Great Lakes

WAUKEGAN, Ill. Officials say a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and rescue swimmer saved seven people from a sinking boat on Lake Michigan.
The Coast Guard says the 37-foot charter fishing boat started going down about midday Friday during a windy storm two miles east of Waukegan Harbor.
The rescue swimmer pulled five people from the lake into the helicopter. A Coast Guard rescue boat out of Kenosha, Wis., picked up the rescue swimmer and the other two boaters.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Day says the boaters only had minutes before the vessel would've sunk with waves up to 10 feet.
Some of the boaters suffered hypothermia from the 50-degree water. Officials say they were stable and responding to treatment at hospitals.
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