WXXI AM News

Veronica Volk

Great Lakes Reporter/Producer

Veronica Volk is the Great Lakes Reporter/Producer for WXXI News, exploring environmental and economic issues, water, and wildlife throughout the region for radio, television, and the web.

Previously, she worked general assignment for the newsroom, covering everything from medical marijuana dispensaries to the photonics industry. She is also producer and co-host of the true-crime podcast Finding Tammy Jo along with Gary Craig of the Democrat and Chronicle.

Veronica got her start as an enterprise reporter in the Bronx for WFUV Public Radio, and later became the senior producer of their weekly public affairs show Cityscape. She holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University and is originally from the Jersey Shore, which is nothing like how it is portrayed on MTV.

Ways to Connect

Associated Press

Plastic debris is pervasive in the waters that feed the Great Lakes, according to a new study published by the United States Geological Survey.

The study found widespread microplastics in 29 tributaries, with the highest concentrations in the Huron River at Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Buffalo River at Buffalo, N.Y.

Microplastics are fibers and beads that come from decomposing bottles and bags, clothing, and even some cosmetic products.

Sasha-Ann Simons / WXXI

In 2010, Harry Bronson won a Democratic primary for an Assembly seat that he would ultimately win in the general election. Bronson hasn’t had to run a primary campaign since then — until this year when former journalist Rachel Barnhart stepped up to challenge him.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Some of the migratory songbirds that pass through the Great Lakes region are already on the move, and volunteers at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory are preparing for them. Hundreds of species – swallows, finches, warblers and more -- visit the observatory on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of Rochester.

Today, the volunteers are repairing large nets, about 12 feet high with very fine mesh. That’s how they catch the birds.

"When they're flying along, they kind of hit these soft nets and fall into little pockets or hammocks," says education director Andrea Patterson.

Jim Kennard

An 18th century sloop called the Washington has been discovered off the coast of Oswego, New York.

Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski, and Roland Stevens found the ship, which sank in 1803. It is the second oldest wreck discovered in Lake Ontario.

Kennard and his team used sonar technology and a remotely operated vehicle to locate the sloop.

"As an explorer," Kennard says, "you can't be the first one to the top of a mountain because most mountains have been climbed, but you can be the first one to make a discovery of a shipwreck."

Veronica Volk / WXXI

The FBI is offering a $20,000 for information in the Tammy Jo Alexander murder case.

The 16-year-old was found shot to death in a cornfield in Caledonia in 1979, and was identified as Florida native Tammy Jo Alexander in January of 2015.

Since then the FBI and the Livingston County Sheriff's Office have been working together to put together a timeline of the last few months of the teenager's life. FBI Special Agent Adam Cohen announced the award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Alexander's murderer.

There are plenty of invasive species vying for the public’s attention, especially in the Great Lakes, so researchers trying to raise awareness about a little aquatic animal called the Spiny Water Flea have to get creative.

A video on YouTube shows a guy dressed as a military general, with insect-like arms protruding from the front of his uniform like a creature from a cheesy 1950s sci-fi movie. He is supposed to be a spiny water flea.

NOAA

Wedged between Fletcher Street and the waterfront is a long row of warehouses. They used to be a paper mill, but these days they are home to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Inside one of the buildings is a little visitor’s center, with art and artifacts and interactive games that broadcast old sailors' songs to kids playing pirates. But the main attraction is offshore. Hundreds of shipwrecks lie at the bottom of this part of Lake Huron.

Down inside the glass bottom charter boat the Lady Michigan, passengers explore shallow wrecks through clear panes lining the hull.

The College at Brockport

The College at Brockport is getting a grant to study the diet of salmon, trout, and other Great Lakes fish in hopes of identifing the source of a vitamin deficiency that causes early mortality syndrome.

Jacques Rinchard is an associate professor at the College of Brockport. He says certain fish are suffering from low levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1, in their diet.

"They can have wiggling or uncoordinated behavior and it could lead to the death of the adult."

It can also prevent fish eggs from hatching.

A schooner that sank off the shores of New York in Lake Ontario almost a century and a half ago has been discovered.


An steep embankment along Angelica Creek in New York shows evidence of long-term erosion.
George Thomas / Center for Environmental Initiatives

The Cayuga Creek Watershed in Erie County is getting federal dollars to reduce erosion.

Stream bank erosion along the waterway carries treated soil from farms into the Great Lakes, causing harmful algal blooms.

Mark Gaston is the district field manager for the Erie County Soil and Water Conservation District. He says reinforcing these stream banks has multiple benefits.

"We utilize plant materials and rocks that help to benefit habitat as well as mitigate erosion."

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