Meadville Tribune

May 21, 2008

Documetary highlights mysteries of ecosystem

By Ryan Smith

05/22/08 — Click image for video

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ERIE — The story of the Great Lakes — rife with dramas brought on by past decades of human-driven degradation

— is ultimately about redemption.

That’s according to Science North filmmaker David Lickley,

producer and director of “Mysteries

of the Great Lakes,” a new documentary that celebrates Earth’s greatest freshwater ecosystem while issuing a rallying cry for its protection.

The U.S. giant screen debut of the hour-long film, with portions featuring Lake Erie’s Presque Isle State Park, is Friday at 6 p.m. at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center’s Big Green Screen Theatre.

“One of the reasons we made this film,” Lickley recently told a private screening audience, is that “we want people to be aware of what’s out there beyond the borders” of the Great Lakes’ shorelines.

To accomplish that feat, Lickley and his crew — using state-of-the-art IMAX lens technologies — spent eight years and a $6 million production budget on capturing the lakes’ scenery and wildlife, as well as the efforts being undertaken to prevent further environmental degradation and extinction of species in various areas.

Along the way, audiences are introduced to an in-depth look at Lake Erie’s Presque Isle State Park. One of the last protected Great Lakes regions, the park’s ecosystem includes six distinct ecological zones, each with a different plant and animal community.

Beyond that, the film examines a renewed interest in the health of the Great Lakes, highlighting the continuing need for preservation and conservation while showcasing the geography, ecology, science and history of the lakes region.

The lakes, which experienced numerous environmental atrocities over the past century, are now the subject of one of the most extensive cleanup projects in history, according to the filmmakers. Those efforts have resulted in bird and fish species rebounding from near-extinction to sustainable populations.

“This film is important here in Erie, and it’s important all (throughout the world),” said Lickley. The Great Lakes basin “is a vast treasure.”

TREC’s Big Green Screen Theatre is one of 11 theaters “Mysteries of the Great Lakes” has been leased to nationwide. The Presque Isle Partnership of Erie and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are two of the project’s major funding partners.

FedNav Limited is the presenting sponsor, and Unilever Canada is its promotional sponsor. Other major funding partners include the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, Fed Nor, Parks Canada, Ontario Power Generation, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.


The U.S. giant screen debut of “Mysteries of the Great Lakes,” with portions featuring Lake Erie’s Presque Isle State Park, is Friday at 6 p.m. at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center’s Big Green Screen Theatre.

–– For all show times, prices and more information: Visit or call (814) 838-4123.


–– The Great Lakes — Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan — are the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet.

–– Lake Erie — with a surface area of 9,940 square miles, a length of 241 miles and a breadth of 57 miles at its widest points — is the 10th largest lake on Earth. It produces more fish each year for human consumption than the other four Great Lakes combined.

–– One of every three Canadians and one of every seven Americans rely on the Great Lakes for their freshwater.

–– Researchers have identified more than 360 chemical compounds, many of which pose ecological threats, in the Great Lakes.