Sunday, September 24, 2017

the last book I ever read (The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan, excerpt three)

from The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan:

Applegate, a wiry ex-infantryman from Yonkers, lived for three years along two lamprey-infested rivers in northern Michigan in search of a weakness in the lifecycle of one of evolution’s most durable models. He did it with an intensity that, more than a half century later, still leaves those who worked with him—or who had brief encounters with him—bemused. Applegate toiled around the clock, chasing the slithering gray or black parasites up rivers through the night and into dawn with flashlights and a notebook.He set traps to catch adults swimming upstream to spawn, and traps to catch young lamprey riding downstream on springtime floods toward the lakes. He built outdoor pens to watch them breed. He peeped into their evolutionary secrets through the glass of the aquariums at his lab on the shore of Lake Huron, whose ecological health evidently became more important to him than what was going on under his own pale skin.

“I’ve heard him described as living on cigarettes and aspirin,” said Howard Tanner, a renowned Greak Lakes fisheries biologist, who met Applegate while Tanner was studying at Michigan State University, and who would one day, if unintentionally, undermine Applegate’s goal or restoring the lakes’ native lake trout. “He was very intense. A small man. Red haired.”

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