New camera near Holland providing views, research

Ottawa County

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The first camera on the Great Lakes used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is now at Holland State Park.

The public can use the camera to see how busy the beaches are, but the real purpose is research and giving the Holland-area a leg up when it comes to safety.

“Ottawa County’s first responders are able to dial into that camera. If they get a call where there’s an emergency at the beach, they can access that camera feed immediately,” said Nathan Bocks, mayor of Holland.

From there, responders can alter the viewpoint all they want for a better look.

“In that time lag between the time they get the call, and they get here, they’re able to see what’s going on, so they know exactly where and how to respond,” he said.

And it’s also used for some serious study.

NOAA is using it to figure out how rip currents are formed, which can pull swimmers away from the shoreline.

Similar cameras are in place throughout the Gulf of Mexico, but this is the first one used on the Great Lakes.

“Ocean waves are different than Lake Michigan waves,” said Bocks. “There are lots of swells that come in the ocean, and we have smaller, choppier currents here. But we still do have rip currents that occur, especially around the pier areas.”

No tax dollars went into this project.

This joint venture between the county, the Department of Natural Resources and the state was formed to save lives. In addition, Biggby Coffee of Holland and Zeeland is also sponsoring the project.

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, there have been 843 drownings in the Great Lakes in the last decade, and this camera could go a long way in changing that.

“Not only are we providing scientific data to NOAA, we’re able to help the community, promote public safety, promote our red-flag program, and quite frankly, able to share the beautiful Holland State Park with the entire world,” he said.

You can view a live feed of the camera 24/7 online. It had 25,000 views on Thursday alone.

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