My name is Dani. I’m on a mission to learn about the natural world through the process of making art and researching natural heritage.
As I research fish, I find that every species has a story to tell. Some stories are marred by unbeatable hardship, such as that of Michigan’s Arctic grayling—a fish that thrived in rivers like the Manistee and Au Sable. But by the 1930s, the logging industry devastated its habitat and overfishing led to its disappearance. Today they no longer exist in Michigan, but in 2016 Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians announced a proposal to re-introduce the species to its historical range. I'm rooting for this!
Other stories are hopeful. Sea lamprey, a parasitic fish native to the Atlantic, made its way into the Great Lakes through manmade canals in the 1800s. The lamprey sucked the life out of native trout populations that were thriving in the Lake Michigan basin. But in 2016, Jory Jonas of the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station made an exciting discovery in the basin. About ten miles northeast of Traverse City, a lake that flows into Lake Michigan was protected from the lamprey due to the Elk Rapids HydroElectric Dam. While fish sampling on Elk Lake, Jory identified trout that looked unfamiliar, and a DNA test proved the existence of native lake trout.
Learning about these stories inspires me to pass them on. And part of my mission as a wildlife artist and writer is to cultivate that sense of wonder that keeps us young at heart and appreciative of the natural world around us.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure that is life.