The Round Goby


During the summer of 1997, the Great Lakes Division worked with Oakland University's Department of Biological Sciences to gather information on the round goby, a small bottom-dwelling fish introduced into the Great Lakes from Europe around 1990, when it was accidentally discharged with an ocean-going freighter's ballast water.  The goal of the project was to observe the behavior of the round goby on a shipwreck in southern Lake Huron.  Of particular interest was its interaction with the zebra mussel, another species introduced from Europe.

SCUBA-certified cadets worked in pairs on the wreck of the 176-foot schooner-barge Sweetheart which sank in 1913 in 30 feet of water.  Adult officers were also diving, but the work was done primarily by the cadets.  Following pre-dive briefings and equipment checks, the cadets entered the water and descended to the sandy bottom. 

As the Sweetheart was approached, the small gobys were seen swimming around and resting on the timbers and exposed surfaces of the wreck.  Although they at first took cover at the approach of the divers, they soon came out and resumed their normal activity.  Each cadet worked a five-foot square area making observations on the number of gobys, their size, feeding behavior, and interaction with other gobys and other species, especially the zebra mussel.  Upon completion of the dive, the cadets recorded their observations on worksheets to be reviewed by the Oakland University research team.