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The R/V Lake Guardian sampling in Lake Huron. (Credit: Michael Milligan)

After a year in lockdown due to COVID-19, the Environmental Protection Agency’s largest research vessel Lake Guardian has set sail. Eleven scientists supported by a 15-member crew will live and work aboard the ship in April 2021. The work on the Lake Guardian is EPA science at its best. Among other activities, these scientific sailors are lowering nets, sleds, bottles, cameras, and other types of equipment into the Great Lakes to collect water, sediment, and lower food web organisms. Scientists will use the three on-board laboratories to examine and evaluate the collected samples, which will shed light on many of the pressing and urgent issues affecting the Great Lakes.

EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office has conducted water quality surveys every spring and summer since 1983, with the exception of the 2020 surveys which were canceled due to COVID-19. These surveys help EPA fulfill environmental monitoring and assessment commitments specified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States and in the U.S. Clean Water Act.

The Lake Guardian is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the world’s largest system of fresh surface water.

EPA’s Lake Guardian is 180 feet in length, with a gross tonnage of 283 tons, a displaced tonnage of 850 tons, and a cruising speed of 11 knots. It has a berthing capacity of 41 people.

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