Tour the Research Vessel R/V Blue Heron

Tuesday, August 8, 2023 (Toledo, Ohio) – On Sunday, August 20, the National Museum of the Great Lakes welcomes the largest U.S. Academic Research Fleet vessel on the Great Lakes, the R/V Blue Heron. Operated by the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the R/V Blue Heron is well-equipped for research and has berthing for 11 crew and scientists. NMGL members and the general public will have a chance to climb aboard to tour the vessel and meet its crew and science personnel.

“This is an exciting event where we open up the vessel to the public and allow them to see, first-hand, what happens on a research vessel,” explained R/V Blue Heron Marine Superintendent Doug Ricketts. “The crew and science personnel are stationed around the vessel and talk to visitors, explaining their research project and the portion of the ship that the visitor has entered.” Ellen Kennedy, the museum’s Education and Visitor Experience Director said, “This is such a great opportunity for our members, lake enthusiasts, and anyone interested in marine research to learn about the important work done by the Large Lakes Observatory.”

Registration is required for this event. Research vessel entry is limited to 20 individuals at a time, so advanced registration is recommended. Day-of signups will only be available if space allows. NMGL members will be given priority boarding from 10 a.m.-noon. General admission will follow during regular museum hours from noon-5 p.m. FREE access to this special event is included for GLHS/NMGL members, Museums for All/SNAP participants*, and those who purchase museum admission for the day of the program.

Register on Eventbrite

Not an NMGL member? Consider a membership that includes year-long and seasonal access to the museum, museum store, program discounts, and more. Visit to learn more.

* This program is available for free to individuals who qualify for Museums For All—a new access program at the National Museum of the Great Lakes where those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission using their SNAP EBT card. Click here for more information on NMGL’s Museums For All program.


About the R/V Blue Heron: Built in 1985 for fishing on the Grand Banks, Blue Heron was purchased by the University of Minnesota in 1997, and converted into a limnological research vessel with the ability to hold 11 crew and scientists. It now conducts limnological research on the five Great Lakes throughout the ice-free season including water and sediment sampling and analysis, sensor launching and retrieval, and radar/sonar scanning. In addition to its research capabilities, the ship also hosts public science outreach and education events in Duluth and other communities. Click here for more information.

About the Large Lakes Observatory: The Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) has a unique mission- study the largest lakes in the world. Researchers from the LLO have studied lakes in East Africa, central Asia, Central and South America, and our backyard, the Great Lakes. The LLO operates RV Blue Heron and researchers from around the country use the vessel to study the lakes. Click here for more information.