Great Lakes

Great Lakes

Overview



The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s located in northeastern North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

, Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

, Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

, Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

, and Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 by total surface, coming in second by volume behind Baikal
Baikal
Baykal commonly refers to Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, Russia.Baykal or Baikal may also refer to:-Russia:*Baykal, Irkutsk Oblast, an urban-type settlement*Baykal, Aurgazinsky District, Republic of Bashkortostan, a village...

 in Russia. The total surface is 94250 square miles (244,106 km²), and the total volume (measured at the low water datum) is 5439 cubic miles (22,671 km³).
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Encyclopedia



The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater
Freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

 lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s located in northeastern North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

, Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

, Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

, Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

, and Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 by total surface, coming in second by volume behind Baikal
Baikal
Baykal commonly refers to Lake Baikal in southern Siberia, Russia.Baykal or Baikal may also refer to:-Russia:*Baykal, Irkutsk Oblast, an urban-type settlement*Baykal, Aurgazinsky District, Republic of Bashkortostan, a village...

 in Russia. The total surface is 94250 square miles (244,106 km²), and the total volume (measured at the low water datum) is 5439 cubic miles (22,671 km³). The lakes are sometimes referred to as the North Coast or "Third Coast" by some citizens of the United States. The Great Lakes hold 21% of the world's surface fresh water.

Geography


Though the five lakes reside in separate basins, they form a single, naturally interconnected body of freshwater. The lakes form a chain connecting the east-central interior of North America to the Atlantic Ocean. From the interior to the outlet at the St. Lawrence River, water flows from Superior to Michigan-Huron (hydrologically a single body of water ), southward to Erie, and finally northward to Lake Ontario. The lakes drain a large watershed via many rivers, and are studded with approximately 35,000 islands. The Great Lakes region contains not only the five themselves, but also many thousands of smaller lakes, often called inland lakes. Of the five lakes, Lake Michigan is the only one that is located entirely within the United States; the others form a water border between the United States and Canada.

Bathymetry

Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

Surface area 9910 sq mi (25,666.8 km²) 23000 sq mi (59,569.7 km²) 22300 sq mi (57,756.7 km²) 7340 sq mi (19,010.5 km²) 31700 sq mi (82,102.6 km²)
Water volume 116 cu mi (483.5 km³) 850 cu mi (3,543 km³) 1180 cu mi (4,918.5 km³) 393 cu mi (1,638.1 km³) 2900 cu mi (12,087.7 km³)
Elevation 571 ft (174 m) 577 ft (175.9 m) 577 ft (175.9 m) 246 ft (75 m) 600 ft (182.9 m)
Average depth 62 ft (18.9 m) 195 ft (59.4 m) 279 ft (85 m) 283 ft (86.3 m) 483 ft (147.2 m)
Maximum depth 210 ft (64 m) 748 ft (228 m) 925 ft (281.9 m) 804 ft (245.1 m) 1335 ft (406.9 m)
Major settlements Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...


Cleveland, OH
Erie, PA
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...


Toledo, OH
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

Alpena, MI
Alpena, Michigan
Alpena is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Alpena County. It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located in the city. The population was 10,483 at the 2010 census...


Bay City, MI
Bay City, Michigan
Bay City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan located near the base of the Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 34,932, and is the principal city of the Bay City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Saginaw-Bay City-Saginaw Township North...


Owen Sound, ON
Port Huron, MI
Port Huron, Michigan
Port Huron is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of St. Clair County. The population was 30,184 at the 2010 census. The city is adjacent to Port Huron Township but is administratively autonomous. It is joined by the Blue Water Bridge over the St. Clair River to Sarnia,...


Sarnia, ON
Sarnia, Ontario
Sarnia is a city in Southern Ontario, Canada . It is the largest city on Lake Huron and is located where the upper Great Lakes empty into the St. Clair River....

Chicago, IL
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...


Gary, IN
Gary, Indiana
Gary is a city in Lake County, Indiana, United States. The city is in the southeastern portion of the Chicago metropolitan area and is 25 miles from downtown Chicago. The population is 80,294 at the 2010 census, making it the seventh-largest city in the state. It borders Lake Michigan and is known...


Green Bay, WI
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, located at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Fox River. It has an elevation of above sea level and is located north of Milwaukee. As of the 2010 United States Census,...


Michigan City, IN
Michigan City, Indiana
Michigan City's origins date to 1830, when the land for the city was first purchased by Isaac C. Elston. Elston Middle School, formerly Elston High School, located at 317 Detroit St., is named after the founder....


Milwaukee, WI
Muskegon, MI
Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County...


Traverse City, MI
Traverse City, Michigan
Traverse City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse County, although a small portion extends into Leelanau County. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse...

Hamilton, ON
Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...


Kingston, ON
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...


Mississauga, ON
Oshawa, ON
Oshawa
Oshawa is a city in Ontario, Canada, on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It lies in Southern Ontario approximately 60 kilometres east of downtown Toronto. It is commonly viewed as the eastern anchor of both the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe. It is now commonly referred to as the most...


Rochester, NY
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...


Toronto, ON
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...


Pickering, ON
Pickering, Ontario
Pickering is a city located in Southern Ontario, Canada immediately east of Toronto in Durham Region. It is part of the Greater Toronto Area, the largest metropolitan area in Canada.- Early Period :...

Duluth, MN
Duluth, Minnesota
Duluth is a port city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Saint Louis County. The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth had a total population of 86,265 in the 2010 census. Duluth is also the second largest city that is located on Lake Superior after Thunder Bay, Ontario,...


Marquette, MI
Marquette, Michigan
Marquette is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Marquette County. The population was 21,355 at the 2010 census, making it the most populated city of the Upper Peninsula. Marquette is a major port on Lake Superior, primarily for shipping iron ore and is the home of Northern...


Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Sault Ste. Marie is a city in and the county seat of Chippewa County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is in the north-eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, on the Canadian border, separated from its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by the St. Marys River...


Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Sault Ste. Marie is a city on the St. Marys River in Algoma District, Ontario, Canada. It is the third largest city in Northern Ontario, after Sudbury and Thunder Bay, with a population of 74,948. The community was founded as a French religious mission: Sault either means "jump" or "rapids" in...


Superior, WI
Superior, Wisconsin
Superior is a city in and the county seat of Douglas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 26,960 at the 2010 census. Located at the junction of U.S. Highways 2 and 53, it is north of and adjacent to both the Village of Superior and the Town of Superior.Superior is at the western...


Thunder Bay, ON
Thunder Bay
-In Canada:Thunder Bay is the name of three places in the province of Ontario, Canada along Lake Superior:*Thunder Bay District, Ontario, a district in Northwestern Ontario*Thunder Bay, a city in Thunder Bay District*Thunder Bay, Unorganized, Ontario...

style="font-size:larger;"| Relative elevations, average depths, maximum depths, and volumes of the Great Lakes.
Notes: The area of each rectangle is proportionate to the volume of each lake. All measurements at Low Water Datum.
Source: EPA
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...


Because the surfaces of Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie are all approximately the same elevation above sea level while Lake Ontario is significantly lower and because Niagara Falls prevents all natural navigation, the four upper lakes are commonly called the "upper great lakes". This designation, however, is not universal. Those living on the shore of Lake Superior often refer to all the other lakes as "the lower lakes", for they are all lower. Sailors of bulk freighters transferring cargoes from Lake Superior and northern Lake Michigan-Huron to ports on Lake Erie or Ontario commonly refer to the latter as the lower lakes and Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior as the upper lakes. This corresponds to thinking of Lakes Erie and Ontario as "down south" and the others as "up north". Vessels sailing north on Lake Michigan are considered "upbound" even though they are sailing toward its effluent.

Water levels


Water levels of Lake Michigan have remained fairly constant over the past century. In fact the variance has only been about two meters during that timeframe. According to geologist John King, of the University of Rhode Island
University of Rhode Island
The University of Rhode Island is the principal public research university in the U.S. state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in Kingston. Additional campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West...

, water levels are very sensitive to climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 and may change more drastically in the next century.

Lake Michigan-Huron



Lakes Michigan and Huron are hydrologically a single lake, sometimes called Lake Michigan-Huron
Lake Michigan-Huron
Lake Michigan-Huron is geologically the largest of the North American Great Lakes. Traditionally considered to be two separate lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, it is hydrologically a single body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac....

, with a total area of 45300 miles (72,903.1 km).; they have the same surface elevation of
577 feet (175.9 m), and are connected not by a river but by the 295 feet (89.9 m) deep Straits of Mackinac
Straits of Mackinac
The Straits of Mackinac is the strip of water that connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and separates the Lower Peninsula of Michigan from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is a shipping lane providing passage for raw materials and finished goods, connecting, for...

.

Rivers


  • The Chicago River
    Chicago River
    The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of the same name, including its center . Though not especially long, the river is notable for being the reason why Chicago became an important location, as the link between the Great Lakes and...

     and Calumet River
    Calumet River
    The Calumet River refers to a system of heavily industrialized rivers and canals in the region between the neighborhood of South Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, and the city of Gary, Indiana.-Background:...

     systems connect the Great Lakes waterways to the Mississippi Valley waterways through man-made alterations and canals.
  • The St. Marys River
    St. Marys River (Michigan-Ontario)
    The St. Marys River , sometimes written as the St. Mary's River, drains Lake Superior, starting at the end of Whitefish Bay and flowing 74.5 miles southeast into Lake Huron, with a fall of ....

     connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron.
  • The St. Clair River
    St. Clair River
    The St. Clair River is a river in central North America which drains Lake Huron into Lake St Clair, forming part of the international boundary between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Michigan...

     connects Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair
    Lake Saint Clair (North America)
    Lake St. Clair is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline...

    .
  • The Detroit River
    Detroit River
    The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

     connects Lake St. Clair
    Lake Saint Clair (North America)
    Lake St. Clair is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline...

     to Lake Erie.
  • The Niagara River
    Niagara River
    The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

    , including Niagara Falls
    Niagara Falls
    The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has...

    , connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.
  • The St. Lawrence River connects Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which connects to the Atlantic Ocean
    Atlantic Ocean
    The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

    .

Other bodies of water

  • Georgian Bay
    Georgian Bay
    Georgian Bay is a large bay of Lake Huron, located entirely within Ontario, Canada...

     is a large bay located within Lake Huron, separated by the Bruce Peninsula
    Bruce Peninsula
    The Bruce Peninsula is a peninsula in Ontario, Canada that lies between Georgian Bay and the main basin of Lake Huron. The peninsula extends roughly northwestwards from the rest of Southern Ontario, pointing towards Manitoulin Island, with which it forms the widest strait joining Georgian Bay to...

     and Manitoulin Island
    Manitoulin Island
    Manitoulin Island is a Canadian island in Lake Huron, in the province of Ontario. It is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world. In addition to the historic Anishinaabe and European settlement of the island, archeological discoveries at Sheguiandah have demonstrated Paleo-Indian and...

    . It contains the majority of the islands of the Great Lakes, with a count of approximately 30,000. The North Channel
    North Channel (Ontario)
    The North Channel is the body of water along the north shore of Lake Huron, in the Canadian province of Ontario. It is bordered on the east by Georgian Bay, on the west by the St. Marys River, to the north by the eastern Algoma District and to the south by the islands of Manitoulin, Cockburn,...

    , a narrower westerly extension of Georgian Bay, separates Manitoulin Island from mainland Northern Ontario
    Northern Ontario
    Northern Ontario is a region of the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north of Lake Huron , the French River and Lake Nipissing. The region has a land area of 802,000 km2 and constitutes 87% of the land area of Ontario, although it contains only about 6% of the population...

    .
  • The Straits of Mackinac
    Straits of Mackinac
    The Straits of Mackinac is the strip of water that connects two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and separates the Lower Peninsula of Michigan from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It is a shipping lane providing passage for raw materials and finished goods, connecting, for...

     connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.
  • The Welland Canal
    Welland Canal
    The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

     connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, bypassing the Niagara River
    Niagara River
    The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

     which cannot be fully navigated due to the presence of Niagara Falls
    Niagara Falls
    The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has...

    .
  • Lake St. Clair is the smallest lake in the Great Lake system but efforts have been made for consideration as one of the Great Lakes.
  • Lake Nipigon
    Lake Nipigon
    Lake Nipigon is the largest lake entirely within the boundaries of the Canadian province of Ontario . It is sometimes described as the sixth Great Lake. Lying 260 metres above sea level, the lake drains into the Nipigon River and thence into Nipigon Bay of Lake Superior...

     to the north of Lake Superior was formed by an extension or aulacogen
    Aulacogen
    In geology, an aulacogen is a failed arm of a triple junction of a plate tectonics rift system. A triple junction beneath a continental plate initiates a three way breakup of the continental plate. As the continental break-up develops one of the three spreading ridges typically fails or stops...

     of the Midcontinent Rift System
    Midcontinent Rift System
    The Midcontinent Rift System or Keweenawan Rift is a long geological rift in the center of the North American continent and south-central part of the North American plate. It formed when the continent's core, the North American craton, began to split apart during the Mesoproterozoic era of the...

     which also formed Lake Superior, so the two lake beds are connected by shared geology.

Islands


Dispersed throughout the Great Lakes are approximately 35,000 islands
Islands of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes islands consist of 35,000 islands created by uneven glacial activity in the Great Lakes Basin. The largest of these is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron in Canada's province of Ontario...

. The largest among them is Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island is a Canadian island in Lake Huron, in the province of Ontario. It is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world. In addition to the historic Anishinaabe and European settlement of the island, archeological discoveries at Sheguiandah have demonstrated Paleo-Indian and...

 in Lake Huron, the largest island in any inland body of water in the world. The second-largest island is Isle Royale
Isle Royale
Isle Royale is an island of the Great Lakes, located in the northwest of Lake Superior, and part of the state of Michigan. The island and the 450 surrounding smaller islands and waters make up Isle Royale National Park....

 in Lake Superior. Both of these islands are large enough to contain multiple lakes themselves — Manitoulin Island's Lake Manitou
Lake Manitou
Lake Manitou is the largest lake on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada. It is the largest lake on a freshwater island in the world. Since Manitoulin Island itself is in Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, Manitou qualifies as the largest "lake in a lake". Lake Manitou has an area of about . It...

 is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest lake located on a freshwater island.

Connection to the ocean


The Saint Lawrence Seaway
Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway , , is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal...

 and Great Lakes Waterway
Great Lakes Waterway
The Great Lakes Waterway is a system of channels and canals that makes all of the Great Lakes accessible to oceangoing vessels. Its principal civil engineering components are the Welland Canal, bypassing Niagara Falls between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and the Soo Locks, bypassing the rapids of...

 opened the Great Lakes to ocean-going vessels. The move to wider ocean-going container ships — which do not fit through the locks on these routes — has limited container shipping on the lakes. Most Great Lakes trade is of bulk material and bulk freighters of Seawaymax
Seawaymax
The term Seawaymax refers to vessels which are the maximum size that can fit through the canal locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.Seawaymax vessels are in length, wide, and have a draft of and a height above the waterline of . A number of lake freighters larger than this size cruise the Great...

-size or less can move throughout the entire lakes and out to the Atlantic. Larger ships are confined to working in the lakes themselves, only barges can access the Illinois Waterway
Illinois Waterway
The Illinois Waterway system consists of of water from the mouth of the Calumet River to the mouth of the Illinois River at Grafton, Illinois. It is a system of rivers, lakes, and canals which provide a shipping connection from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The...

 system providing access to the Gulf of Mexico. Despite their vast size, large sections of the Great Lakes freeze over in winter, interrupting most shipping. Some icebreaker
Icebreaker
An icebreaker is a special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters. Although the term usually refers to ice-breaking ships, it may also refer to smaller vessels .For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most...

s ply the lakes, keeping the shipping lanes open through most of the winter.

The Great Lakes are also connected to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois River
Illinois River
The Illinois River is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately long, in the State of Illinois. The river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of . This river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route...

 (from the Chicago River
Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of the same name, including its center . Though not especially long, the river is notable for being the reason why Chicago became an important location, as the link between the Great Lakes and...

) and the Mississippi River. An alternate track is via the Illinois River (from Chicago), to the Mississippi, up the Ohio, and then through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
The Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway is a 234-mile man-made, artificial waterway that extends from the Tennessee River to the junction of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system near Demopolis, Alabama, United States. The Tenneessee-Tombigbee Waterway links commercial navigation from the nation’s...

 (combination of a series of rivers and lakes and canals), to Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in the United States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the...

 and the Gulf
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

. Commercial tug-and-barge traffic on these waterways is heavy.

Pleasure boats can also enter or exit the Great Lakes by way of the Erie Canal
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

 and Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

 in New York. The Erie Canal connects to the Great Lakes at the east end of Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

 (at Buffalo, NY) and at the south side of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 (at Oswego, NY).

Boundaries


The lakes are bound by the Canadian province of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and the U.S. states of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Four of the five lakes form part of the Canada-United States border; the fifth, Lake Michigan, is contained entirely within the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Saint Lawrence River, which marks the same international border for a portion of its course, is the primary outlet of these interconnected lakes, and flows through Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 and past the Gaspé Peninsula
Gaspé Peninsula
The Gaspésie , or Gaspé Peninsula or the Gaspé, is a peninsula along the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, extending into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence...

 to the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Name origins

Lake Erie Lake Huron Lake Michigan Lake Ontario Lake Superior
Origins of Name Erie (tribe)
Erie (tribe)
The Erie were an Native American people historically living on the south shore of Lake Erie. An Iroquoian group, they lived in what is now western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, and northern Ohio...

; shorten form of Iroquoian word Erielhonan or “long tail”
Named by French explorers for inhabitants in the area, Wyandot or “Hurons” Likely from the Ojibwa
Ojibwe language
Ojibwe , also called Anishinaabemowin, is an indigenous language of the Algonquian language family. Ojibwe is characterized by a series of dialects that have local names and frequently local writing systems...

 word mishigami meaning “great water”
Wyandot
Wyandot language
Wyandot is the Iroquoian language traditionally spoken by the people known variously as Wyandot, Wyandotte, Wendat, or Huron. It was last spoken primarily in Oklahoma and Quebec...

 (Huron) word ontarío meaning “Lake of Shining Waters” (Ontara = beautiful, Ontario = beautiful lake)
English translation of French term “lac supérieur” ("upper lake"), referring to its position above Lake Huron, Ojibwe called it "Gitchigumi"

Statistics


The Great Lakes contain roughly 22% of the world’s fresh surface water: 5472 cubic miles (22,808.3 km³), or 6.0×1015 U.S. gallons (2.3×1016 liters). This is enough water to cover the 48 contiguous U.S. states to a uniform depth of 9.5 feet (2.9 m). However, only 2% of this volume is replaced each year, causing water levels to fall in recent years as the water undergoes heavy human use . Although the lakes contain a large percentage of the world's fresh water, the Great Lakes supply only a small portion of U.S. drinking water on a national basis (roughly 4.2%).

Winter 2009–10 was somewhat mild, the precipitation was below normal for the Great Lakes Basin. Mean lake levels are thought to be slightly below or at their levels of 2009. An ice jam in February 2010 dropped the level in Lake St. Clair. Since the jam was removed the level has come back to its average. As of March 2010, the lakes were at the level, or slightly below, where they were in March 2009.

The combined surface area
Surface area
Surface area is the measure of how much exposed area a solid object has, expressed in square units. Mathematical description of the surface area is considerably more involved than the definition of arc length of a curve. For polyhedra the surface area is the sum of the areas of its faces...

 of the lakes is approximately 94250 square miles (244,106.4 km²)—nearly the same size as the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, and larger than the U.S. states of New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 and New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 combined.

The Great Lakes coast
Coast
A coastline or seashore is the area where land meets the sea or ocean. A precise line that can be called a coastline cannot be determined due to the dynamic nature of tides. The term "coastal zone" can be used instead, which is a spatial zone where interaction of the sea and land processes occurs...

 measures approximately 10500 miles (16,898.1 km); however, the length of a coastline is impossible to measure exactly and is not a well-defined measure (see Coastline paradox
Coastline paradox
The coastline paradox is the counterintuitive observation that the coastline of a landmass does not have a well-defined length. This results from the fractal-like properties of coastlines. It was first observed by Lewis Fry Richardson....

).

Geology


It has been estimated that the foundational geology which created the conditions shaping the present day upper Great Lakes was laid from 1.1 to 1.2 billion years ago, when two previously fused tectonic plates
Tectonic Plates
Tectonic Plates is a 1992 independent Canadian film directed by Peter Mettler. Mettler also wrote the screenplay based on the play by Robert Lepage. The film stars Marie Gignac, Céline Bonnier and Robert Lepage.-Plot summary:...

 split apart and created the Midcontinent Rift
Midcontinent Rift System
The Midcontinent Rift System or Keweenawan Rift is a long geological rift in the center of the North American continent and south-central part of the North American plate. It formed when the continent's core, the North American craton, began to split apart during the Mesoproterozoic era of the...

, which crossed the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone
Great Lakes tectonic zone
During the Late Archean Eon the Algoman orogeny added landmass to the Superior province by volcanic activity and continental collision along a boundary that stretches from present-day South Dakota, U.S., into the Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Lake Huron region....

. A valley was formed providing a basin that eventually became modern day Lake Superior. When a second fault line, the Saint Lawrence rift
Saint Lawrence rift system
The Saint Lawrence rift system is a seismically active zone paralleling the Saint Lawrence River. The rift system trends northeast and southwest and forms a half-graben that links the Ottawa-Bonnechere and the Saguenay grabens. The rift system extends more than 1000 km along the Saint Lawrence...

, formed approximately 570 million years ago, the basis for Lakes Ontario and Erie were created, along with what would become the St. Lawrence River.

The Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the last glacial period (about 10,000 years ago), when the Laurentide ice sheet
Laurentide ice sheet
The Laurentide Ice Sheet was a massive sheet of ice that covered hundreds of thousands of square miles, including most of Canada and a large portion of the northern United States, multiple times during Quaternary glacial epochs. It last covered most of northern North America between c. 95,000 and...

 receded. The retreat of the ice sheet left behind a large amount of meltwater (see Lake Agassiz
Lake Agassiz
Lake Agassiz was an immense glacial lake located in the center of North America. Fed by glacial runoff at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and it held more water than contained by all lakes in the world today.-Conception:First...

) which filled up the basins that the glaciers had carved, thus creating the Great Lakes as we know them today. Because of the uneven nature of glacier erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

, some higher hills became Great Lakes islands
Islands of the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes islands consist of 35,000 islands created by uneven glacial activity in the Great Lakes Basin. The largest of these is Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron in Canada's province of Ontario...

. The Niagara Escarpment
Niagara Escarpment
The Niagara Escarpment is a long escarpment, or cuesta, in the United States and Canada that runs westward from New York State, through Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois...

 follows the contour of the Great Lakes between New York and Wisconsin.

Land below the glaciers "rebounded"
Post-glacial rebound
Post-glacial rebound is the rise of land masses that were depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period, through a process known as isostasy...

 as it was uncovered. Because the glaciers covered some areas longer than others, this glacial rebound occurred at different rates.

Climate


The Great Lakes have a continental climate, with varying influences from air masses from other regions including dry, cold Arctic systems, warm Pacific air masses from the West, and warm, wet tropical systems from the south and the Gulf of Mexico. The lakes, themselves, also have a moderating impact on the climate.

Lake effect


The effect of the Great Lakes on weather in the region is called the lake effect
Lake effect snow
Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores...

. In winter, the lakes often have no ice in the middle. The prevailing winds from the west pick up the slightly warmer air and moisture from the lake surface. As the slightly warmer, moist air passes over the colder land surface, the moisture often produces heavy snowfall. This is similar to the effect of warmer air dropping snow as it passes over mountain ranges. During freezing weather, this "snow belt" receives regular snow fall from this localized weather pattern, especially along the eastern shore. Snow belts are found in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and New York.

The lakes also moderate seasonal temperatures to some degree, by absorbing heat and cooling the air in summer, then slowly radiating that heat in autumn. It protects against frost during the transitional weather, but it also keeps the summer time temperatures cooler than further inland. This temperature buffering produces areas known as "fruit belts", where fruit typically grown farther south can be produced. Western Michigan
Western Michigan
West Michigan and Western Michigan are terms for an arbitrarily selected region in the U.S. state of Michigan in its Lower Peninsula. There is no official definition for what constitutes "West Michigan." The area of West Michigan may also include parts Southern Michigan.-Definition:In general,...

 has apple and cherry orchards, and vineyards adjacent to the lake shore as far north as the Grand Traverse Bay
Grand Traverse Bay
Grand Traverse Bay is a bay of Lake Michigan formed by part of Northern Michigan. The bay is long, 10 miles wide, and up to deep in spots. It is divided into two arms by the Old Mission Peninsula...

. The eastern shore of Lake Michigan and the southern shore of Lake Erie have many wineries as a result of this, as does the Niagara Peninsula
Niagara Peninsula
The Niagara Peninsula is the portion of Southern Ontario, Canada lying between the south shore of Lake Ontario and the north shore of Lake Erie. It stretches from the Niagara River in the east to Hamilton, Ontario in the west. The population of the peninsula is roughly 1,000,000 people...

 between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. A similar phenomenon occurs in the Finger Lakes
Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of Upstate New York in the United States. They are a popular tourist destination. The lakes are long and thin , each oriented roughly on a north-south axis. The two longest, Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, are among the deepest in...

 region of New York as well as Prince Edward County, Ontario
Prince Edward County, Ontario
Prince Edward County is a single-tier municipality and a census division of the Canadian province of Ontario.-Geography:Prince Edward County is located in Southern Ontario on a large irregular headland or littoral at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, just west of the head of the St. Lawrence River...

 on Lake Ontario's northeast shore. Related to lake effect, is the occurrence of fog
Fog
Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated...

 over medium-sized areas, particularly along the shorelines of the lakes. This is most noticeable along Lake Superior's shores, due to its maritime climate.

The Great Lakes have been observed to help strengthen storms, such as Hurricane Hazel
Hurricane Hazel
Hurricane Hazel was the deadliest and costliest hurricane of the 1954 Atlantic hurricane season. The storm killed as many as 1,000 people in Haiti before striking the United States near the border between North and South Carolina, as a Category 4 hurricane...

 in 1954, and a frontal system in 2007 that spawned a few tornadoes in Michigan and Ontario, picking up warmth from the lakes to fuel them. Also observed in 1996, was a rare subtropical cyclone
Subtropical cyclone
A subtropical cyclone is a weather system that has some characteristics of a tropical and an extratropical cyclone. As early as the 1950s, meteorologists were unclear whether they should be characterized as tropical or extratropical cyclones. They were officially recognized by the National...

 forming in Lake Huron, dubbed the 1996 Lake Huron cyclone
1996 Lake Huron cyclone
The 1996 Lake Huron cyclone was a strong cyclonic storm system that developed over Lake Huron in September 1996. It had some characteristics of a tropical cyclone.-Storm history:...

.

Ecological challenges



The ecological history of the Great Lakes includes both great losses and enormous recovery; the system today is in the most obvious ways much healthier than it was a half-century ago, while in less apparent ways it remains seriously compromised.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Great Lakes provided fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 to the indigenous
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 groups who lived near them. Early European settlers were astounded by both the variety and quantity of fish; there were 150 different species in the Great Lakes. Historically, fish populations were the early indicator of the condition of the Lakes, and have remained one of the key indicators even in the current era of sophisticated analyses and measuring instruments. According to the bi-national (U.S. and Canadian) resource book, The Great Lakes: An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book, "the largest Great Lakes fish harvests were recorded in 1889 and 1899 at some 67,000 tonnes [147 million pounds]," though the beginning of environmental impacts on the fish can be traced back nearly a century prior to those years.

By 1801 the New York Legislature
New York Legislature
The New York State Legislature is the term often used to refer to the two houses that act as the state legislature of the U.S. state of New York. The New York Constitution does not designate an official term for the two houses together...

 found it necessary to pass regulations curtailing obstructions to the natural migrations of Atlantic salmon from Lake Erie into their spawning channels. In the early 19th century, Upper Canada's
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

 government found it necessary to introduce similar legislation prohibiting the use of weirs and nets at the mouths of Lake Ontario’s tributaries. Other protective legislation was passed as well, but enforcement remained difficult and often quite spotty.

On both sides of the Canada–United States border, the proliferation of dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

s and impoundments multiplied, necessitating more regulatory efforts. The decline in fish populations was unmistakable by the middle of the 19th century, as the obstructions in the rivers prevented salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

 and sturgeon
Sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

 from reaching their spawning grounds. The decline in salmon was recognized by Canadian officials and reported as virtually a complete absence by the end of the 1860s. The Wisconsin Fisheries Commission noted a reduction of roughly 25% in general fish harvests by 1875. Many Michigan rivers sport multiple dams that range from mere relics to those with serious loss of life potential. The state's dam removal budget has been frozen in recent years; in the 1990s, the state was removing one dam per year.

Overfishing was cited as responsible for the decline of the population of various whitefish
Freshwater whitefish
The freshwater whitefish are fish of the subfamily Coregoninae in the salmon family Salmonidae. Along with the freshwater whitefish, the Salmonidae includes the freshwater and anadromous trout and salmon species as well as graylings...

, important because of their culinary desirability and, hence, economic consequence. Moreover, between 1879 and 1899, reported whitefish harvests declined from some 24.3 million pounds (11 million kg) to just over 9 million pounds (4 million kg). The population of giant freshwater mussels was eliminated as the mussels were harvested for use as buttons by early Great Lakes entrepreneurs.

There were other factors in the population declines besides overfishing and the problems posed by water obstructions. Logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 in the Great Lakes region removed tree cover near stream channels which provide spawning grounds; this affected necessary shade and temperature-moderating conditions. Removal of tree cover also destabilized soil, allowing soil to be carried in greater quantity into the streambeds and even brought about more frequent flooding. Running cut logs down the Lakes’ tributary rivers also stirred bottom sediments. In 1884 the New York Fish Commission determined that the dumping of sawmill waste (chips and sawdust) was impacting fish populations.

In the development of ecological problems in the Great Lakes, it was the influx of parasitic lamprey
Lamprey
Lampreys are a family of jawless fish, whose adults are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Translated from an admixture of Latin and Greek, lamprey means stone lickers...

 populations after the development of the Erie Canal and the much later Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

 that led to the two federal governments attempting to work together. Despite a variety of efforts to eliminate or minimize the lamprey, by the mid-1950s the lake trout populations of Lakes Michigan and Huron were reduced by about 99%, with the lamprey deemed largely to blame. This led to the launch of the bi-national Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is a bi-national commission made up of representatives of the United States and Canada. It was formed by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries, ratified in 1955. It has eight members: four members are appointed by the President of the United States, serving...

.

The authoritative but now outdated 1972 book The Great Lakes: An Environmental Atlas and Resource Book noted that "only pockets remain of the once large commercial fishery." In the meanwhile however the great water quality improvements realized during the 1970s and 1980s, combined with successful salmonid stocking programs, have enabled the growth of a large recreational fishery.

Pollution


Major contributors to ecological problems in the Lakes and their surroundings have stemmed from urban runoff and sprawl, sewage disposal, and toxic industrial effluent. These, of course, also affect aquatic food chains, fish populations, and human health. Some of these glaring problem areas are what attracted the high-level publicity of Great Lakes ecological troubles in the 1960s and 1970s. Evidence of chemical pollution in the Lakes and their tributaries now stretch back for decades. In the 1960s Ohio’s Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River
The Cuyahoga River is located in Northeast Ohio in the United States. Outside of Ohio, the river is most famous for being "the river that caught fire", helping to spur the environmental movement in the late 1960s...

 (or more precisely a combination of oil, chemicals and trash floating atop it in Cleveland, which created a very flammable brown, oily film) ignited and smoldered, creating international headlines. Witnesses claimed that there was not much that could have stopped the fire, the only thing that could have prevented would have been for these companies to not dump toxic waste.

The Cuyahoga, and a TIME Magazine cover story about the "death" of Lake Erie, helped focus public and policymaker attention and inspire the first Earth Day events in 1970. New advocacy organizations such as the Lake Michigan Federation, founded in 1970 by Lee Botts
Lee Botts
Leila Botts is a prominent American environmentalist known primarily for her work related to conservation and restoration of the Great Lakes. She has founded two successful non-profit organizations, directed a subagency of the U.S...

, brought new public pressure to bear. The first U.S. Clean Water Act
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Commonly abbreviated as the CWA, the act established the goals of eliminating releases of high amounts of toxic substances into water, eliminating additional water pollution by 1985, and ensuring that...

, signed by Pres. Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 in 1972, was a key step forward as was the innovative bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement signed by Canada and the U.S. Thanks to a variety of steps taken to reduce industrial and municipal pollution discharges into the system, basic water quality had by the 1980s improved sharply and Lake Erie in particular was significantly healthier. The ongoing discharge of toxic substances has also been sharply reduced thanks to federal and state bans of substances like PCBs and DDT
DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....

, though historic toxics remain embedded in harbor and rivermouth sediments in dozens of "Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Great Lakes Areas of Concern
Great Lakes Areas of Concern are designated geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin that show severe environmental degradation. There are a total of 43 areas of concern within the Great Lakes, 26 being in the U.S., 17 in Canada, with five shared by the two countries.The Great Lakes, the...

".

Mercury


A prime example of a very harmful chemical that comprises the majority of pollutants in the water is the metal, mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

. Up until 1970, mercury was not listed as a harmful chemical to watch out for, according to the United States Federal Water Quality Administration. Within the past 10 years mercury has become more apparent in water tests, which has led to increased illness issues. Mercury compounds were used in many paper mills to prevent slime from forming during their production, and chemical companies, such as Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical Company
The Dow Chemical Company is a multinational corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. As of 2007, it is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization .Dow...

, used mercury to separate chlorine from brine solutions. Studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 have shown that when the mercury comes in contact with many of the bacteria and compounds in the fresh water, it forms the very toxic, inorganic methyl mercury
Methylmercury
Methylmercury is an organometallic cation with the formula . It is a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant.-Structure:...

. This form of mercury is not detrimental to a majority of fish types, but is very detrimental to people and other wildlife animals who consume the fish. Mercury has been known for health related problems such as birth defects in humans and animals, and the near extinction of eagles in the Great Lakes region.

Raw sewage


The amount of raw sewage dumped into the waters poses a much larger threat. Sewage treatment plants have many recommendations and requirements on how they are supposed to filter chemicals and sewage through them, but a huge majority of the waste never actually goes through the treatment centers. The flow of sewage into the Lakes once was slightly useful to natural processes, but with the current development and population increases it has only been overwhelming these processes. Many decades ago the population in a variety of areas was very minimal, so pumping sewage directly into the water seemed like a very workable solution. However when the population continued to grow, the sewage problem only got worse. As the sewage mixes with the natural processes in the Lakes and surrounding areas, algae grows which results in rotting matter on the beaches, and good organic matter falling to the bottom. The more blockages there are in the water results in an oxygen deprivation, which pauses the natural processes of the Lakes.

Invasive species


Since the 19th century an estimated 160 species have invaded the Great Lakes ecosystem, with ship ballast being a primary suspected pathway, causing severe economic and ecological impacts. According to the Inland Seas Education Association, on average a new invasive species enters the Great Lakes every eight months.


Two such infestations in the Great Lakes are the introduction of the zebra mussel
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

, which was first discovered in 1988, and quagga mussel
Quagga mussel
The quagga mussel is a subspecies of freshwater mussel, an aquatic bivalve mollusk.It is one of seven Dreissena species and has an average life span of 3 to 5 years....

 in 1989. The mollusks are efficient filter feeders, competing with native mussels, and also reduce available food and spawning grounds for fish. Additionally the mussels hurt utility and manufacturing industries by clogging or blocking pipes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the economic impact of the zebra mussel will be about $5 billion over the next decade.

The alewife
Alewife
The alewife is a species of herring. There are anadromous and landlocked forms. The landlocked form is also called a sawbelly or mooneye...

 first entered the system west of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 via 19th-century canals. By the 1960s the small silver fish had become a familiar nuisance to beachgoers across Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie as periodic mass dieoffs resulted in vast numbers of them washing up on shore; estimates by various governments have placed the percentage of Lake Michigan's biomass which was made up of alewives in the early 1960s as high as 90%. The various state and federal governments began stocking several species of salmonids in the late 1960s, including the native lake trout as well as non-native chinook and coho salmon; by the 1980s alewife populations had dropped drastically. Ironically, today the sharply lower numbers of alewives is seen as a problem by those involved in the large recreational fishing sector that has grown up particularly on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

.

The ruffe
Ruffe
The Eurasian Ruffe or simply Ruffe is a freshwater fish found in temperate regions of Europe and northern Asia. It has been introduced into the Great Lakes of North America, reportedly with unfortunate results...

, a small percid fish, became the most abundant fish species in Lake Superior's St. Louis River within five years of its detection in 1986. Its range, which has expanded to Lake Huron, poses a significant threat to the lower lake fishery. Five years after first being observed in the St. Clair River, the round goby
Round goby
The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, is an euryhaline bottom-dwelling goby of the family Gobiidae, native to central Eurasia including the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.-Characteristics:...

 can now be found in all of the Great Lakes. The goby is considered undesirable for several reasons: it preys upon bottom-feeding fish, overruns optimal habitat, spawns multiple times a season and can survive poor water quality conditions.

Several species of exotic water fleas have accidentally been introduced into the Great Lakes, such as the spiny waterflea, Bythotrephes longimanus, and the fishhook waterflea, Cercopagis pengoi, potentially having an effect on the zooplankton population. Several species of crayfish
Crayfish
Crayfish, crawfish, or crawdads – members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea – are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related...

 have also been introduced that may contend with native crayfish populations. More recently an electric fence has been set up across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal
The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, historically known as the Chicago Drainage Canal, is the only shipping link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system, by way of the Illinois and Des Plaines Rivers...

 in order to keep several species of invasive Asian carps out of the area. These fast-growing planktivorous fish have heavily colonized the Mississippi and Illinois river systems. The sea lamprey
Sea lamprey
The sea lamprey is a parasitic lamprey found on the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America, in the western Mediterranean Sea, and in the Great Lakes. It is brown, gray, or black on its back and white or gray on the underside and can grow up to 90 cm long. Sea lampreys prey on a wide...

 is another example of a marine invasive species in the Great Lakes.

It has been suggested that invasive species, particularly zebra and quagga mussels, may be at least partially responsible for the collapse of the deepwater demersal fish community in Lake Huron, as well as drastic unprecedented changes in the zooplankton community of the lake.

History



The brigantine Le Griffon
Le Griffon
Le Griffon was a 17th century sailing ship built by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in his quest to find the Northwest Passage to China and Japan....

, which was commissioned by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, was built at Cayuga Creek, near the southern end of the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

, and became the first sailing ship to travel the upper Great Lakes on August 7, 1679.

During settlement, the Great Lakes and its rivers were the only practical means of moving people and freight. Barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

s from middle North America were able to reach the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes when the Erie Canal
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

 opened in 1825. By 1848, with the opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal
Illinois and Michigan Canal
The Illinois and Michigan Canal ran from the Bridgeport neighborhood in Chicago on the Chicago River to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois, on the Illinois River. It was finished in 1848 when Chicago Mayor James Hutchinson Woodworth presided over its opening; and it allowed boat transportation from the Great...

 at Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, direct access to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 was possible from the lakes. With these two canals an all-inland water route was provided between New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and New Orleans.

The main business of many of the passenger lines in the 19th century was transporting immigrants
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

. Many of the larger cities owe their existence to their position on the lakes as a freight destination as well as for being a magnet for immigrants. After railroads and surface roads developed, the freight and passenger businesses dwindled and, except for ferries and a few foreign cruise ships, has now vanished.

The immigration routes still have an effect today. Immigrants often formed their own communities and some areas have a pronounced ethnicity, such as Dutch, German, Polish, Finnish, and many others. Since many immigrants settled for a time in New England before moving westward, many areas on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes also have a New England feel, especially in home styles and accent.

Since general freight these days is transported by railroads and trucks, domestic ships mostly move bulk cargoes, such as iron ore, coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 and limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 for the steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

 industry. The domestic bulk freight developed because of the nearby mines. It was more economical to transport the ingredients for steel to centralized plants rather than try to make steel on the spot. Ingredients for steel, however, are not the only bulk shipments made. Grain exports are also a major cargo on the lakes.

In the 19th century and early 20th century, iron and other ores such as copper were shipped south on (downbound ships), and supplies, food, and coal were shipped north (upbound). Because of the location of the coal fields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, and the general northeast track of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, railroads naturally developed shipping routes that went due north to ports such as Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

 and Ashtabula, Ohio
Ashtabula, Ohio
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,962 people, 8,435 households, and 5,423 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,775.9 people per square mile . There were 9,151 housing units at an average density of 1,211.8 per square mile...

.

Because the lake maritime community largely developed independently, it has some distinctive vocabulary. Ships, no matter the size, are called boats. When the sailing ships gave way to steamships, they were called steamboats—the same term used on the Mississippi. The ships also have a distinctive design (see Lake freighter
Lake freighter
Lake freighters, or Lakers, are bulk carrier vessels that ply the Great Lakes. The best known was the , the most recent and largest major vessel to be wrecked on the Lakes. These vessels are traditionally called boats, although classified as ships. In the mid-20th century, 300 lakers worked the...

). Ships that primarily trade on the lakes are known as lakers
Lake freighter
Lake freighters, or Lakers, are bulk carrier vessels that ply the Great Lakes. The best known was the , the most recent and largest major vessel to be wrecked on the Lakes. These vessels are traditionally called boats, although classified as ships. In the mid-20th century, 300 lakers worked the...

. Foreign boats are known as salties.

One of the more common sights on the lakes is the 1,000‑by‑105 foot (305-by-32 m), 78850 long ton self-unloader. This is a laker with a conveyor belt system that can unload itself by swinging a crane over the side. Today, the Great Lakes fleet is much smaller in numbers than it once was because of the increased use of overland freight, and a few larger ships replacing many small ones.

Economy



The Great Lakes are today used as a major mode of transport
Mode of transport
Mode of transport is a term used to distinguish substantially different ways to perform transport. The most dominant modes of transport are aviation, land transport, which includes rail, road and off-road transport, and ship transport...

 for bulk goods. In 2002, 162 million net ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s of dry bulk cargo were moved on the Lakes. This was, in order of volume: iron ore, grain and potash
Potash
Potash is the common name for various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains, and this was the major historical source for it before the industrial era...

. The iron ore and much of the stone and coal are used in the steel industry. There is also some shipping of liquid and containerized cargo but most container ships cannot pass the locks on the Saint Lawrence Seaway because the ships are too wide. The total amount of shipping on the lakes has been on a downward trend for several years.

The Great Lakes are used to supply drinking water to tens of millions of people in bordering areas. This valuable resource is collectively administered by the state and provincial governments adjacent to the lakes.

Recreational boating and tourism are major industries on the Great Lakes. A few small cruise ships operate on the Great Lakes including a couple of sailing ships
Sailing
Sailing is the propulsion of a vehicle and the control of its movement with large foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and sometimes the keel or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to move the boat relative to its surrounding medium and...

. Sport fishing, commercial fishing, and Native American fishing represent a U.S.$4 billion a year industry with salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, whitefish
Coregonus
Coregonus is a diverse genus of fish in the salmon family . The type species is the common whitefish . The Coregonus species are known as whitefishes...

, smelt, lake trout
Lake trout
Lake trout is a freshwater char living mainly in lakes in northern North America. Other names for it include mackinaw, lake char , touladi, togue, and grey trout. In Lake Superior, they can also be variously known as siscowet, paperbellies and leans...

 and walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

 being major catches. In addition, all kinds of water sports can be found on the lakes. Unusually for inland waters, the Great Lakes provide the possibility of surfing
Lake surfing
Lake surfing is a form of surfing that takes place primarily on the Great Lakes, where a large surface area and strong storms, particularly in the fall and winter, can produce large waves. During these surf seasons there is usually snow on the ground and some ice in the water, requiring some...

, particularly in winter due to the effect of strong storms and waves.

Great Lakes Circle Tour


The Great Lakes Circle Tour
Great Lakes Circle Tour
The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. It consists of routes for circumnavigating the lakes, either individually or collectively.-Lake Superior Circle Tour:...

 is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

Great Lakes passenger steamers



From 1844 through 1857, palace steamer
Palace steamer
Palace steamers were luxurious steamships that carried passengers and cargo around the North American Great Lakes from 1844 through 1857. One was the Niagara, which was destroyed by a fire during an 1856 voyage.- Source :*...

s carried passengers and cargo around the Great Lakes. Throughout the 20th century, large luxurious passenger steamers sailed from Chicago all the way to Detroit and Cleveland. These were primarily operated by the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Company. Several ferries currently operate on the Great Lakes to carry passengers to various islands, including Isle Royale, Pelee Island
Pelee, Ontario
Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada , is an island in the western half of Lake Erie. Pelee Island is connected to the Canadian and United States mainland by ferry service. At 42 km2, Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and the southernmost populated point in Canada...

, Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island is an island and resort area covering in land area, part of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located in Lake Huron, at the eastern end of the Straits of Mackinac, between the state's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The island was home to a Native American settlement before European...

, Beaver Island
Beaver Island (Lake Michigan)
Beaver Island is the largest island in Lake Michigan and part of the Beaver Island archipelago. Once home to a unique American monarchy, the island is now a popular tourist and vacation destination....

, Bois Blanc Island (Ontario)
Bois Blanc Island (Ontario)
Bois Blanc Island, commonly called Boblo Island, is an island in the Detroit River located directly west of Amherstburg, Ontario in the Detroit River, on the Canadian side of the border...

, Bois Blanc Island (Michigan)
Bois Blanc Island (Michigan)
Bois Blanc Island is coterminous with Bois Blanc Township, Mackinac County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The island covers about and is about 12 miles long, 6 miles wide and has 6 lakes. Bois Blanc is located in Lake Huron southeast of Mackinac Island and almost due north of the city of...

, Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island, Ohio
Kelleys Island is both a village in Erie County, Ohio, United States, and the island which it fully occupies in Lake Erie. Originally known as Island Number 6 and later Cunningham Island, it was renamed in 1840 for brothers Datus and Irad Kelley, who were largely responsible for cultivatating the...

, South Bass Island
South Bass Island
South Bass Island is a small island in western Lake Erie, and a part of Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. It is the southernmost of the three Bass Islands and located 12 miles from the south shore of Lake Erie. It is the third largest island in the Lake Erie Islands. The island is a popular...

, North Manitou Island
North Manitou Island
North Manitou Island is located in Lake Michigan, approximately west-northwest of Leland, Michigan. It is nearly eight miles long and over four miles wide, with of shoreline. It has a land area of 57.876 km² and has no population...

, South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island is located in Lake Michigan, approximately west of Leland, Michigan. It is part of Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The uninhabited island is in land area and can be accessed by a ferry service from Leland...

, Harsens Island
Harsens Island
Harsens Island is a wet marshy location at the mouth of the St. Clair River in the U.S. state of Michigan. Politically, the island is in Clay Township of St. Clair County.-History:...

, Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island is a Canadian island in Lake Huron, in the province of Ontario. It is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world. In addition to the historic Anishinaabe and European settlement of the island, archeological discoveries at Sheguiandah have demonstrated Paleo-Indian and...

, and the Toronto Islands
Toronto Islands
The Toronto Islands are a chain of small islands in the city of Toronto, Ontario. Comprising the only group of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands are located just offshore from the city centre, and provide shelter for Toronto Harbour...

. As of 2007, three car ferry services cross the Great Lakes, two on Lake Michigan: a steamer from Ludington, Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Ludington is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 8,357. It is the county seat of Mason County.Ludington is a harbor town located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Pere Marquette River...

, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Manitowoc is a city in and the county seat of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, United States. The city is located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River. According to the 2000 census, Manitowoc had a population of 34,053, with over 50,000 residents in the surrounding communities...

, and a high speed catamaran from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County...

, and one on Lake Erie: a boat from Kingsville, Ontario
Kingsville, Ontario
The Town of Kingsville is located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and is Canada's southernmost municipality with town status. According to the 2006 census, the population of Kingsville is 20,908.-Geography:...

, or Leamington, Ontario
Leamington, Ontario
Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, southern Ontario, Canada, and has a population of 31,113. It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the...

, to Pelee Island, Ontario, then onto Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. It is located in northern Ohio and is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, almost exactly half-way between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east....

. An international ferry across Lake Ontario from Rochester, New York
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

, to Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 ran during 2004 and 2005, but is no longer in operation.

Some passenger steamers

Ship's name Year built Nationality Ship's name Year built Nationality Ship's name Year built Nationality
Niagara
Niagara (palace steamer)
The Niagara was a long sidewheel palace steamer launched in 1846. Like the others of its kind, it carried passengers and cargo around the North American Great Lakes. It was owned by the Collingwood Line....

1856 United States 1892 United States 1902 United States
Milwaukee Clipper
Milwaukee Clipper
The S/S Milwaukee Clipper, also known as S/S Clipper , and formerly as the S/S Juniata, is a mothballed passenger ship and automobile ferry that sailed under two configurations and on two sides of the Great Lakes. The Clipper is the oldest US passenger steamship on the Great Lakes...

1904 United States 1907 Canadian Comet
Comet (steamboat)
The SS Comet was a steamship that operated on the Great Lakes. The Comet was built in 1857 as a wooden-hulled propeller-driven cargo vessel that was soon adapted to carry passengers. She suffered a series of maritime accidents prior to her final sinking in 1875 causing the loss of ten lives...

1857 United States

Shipwrecks


The large size of the Great Lakes increases the risk of water travel; storm
Storm
A storm is any disturbed state of an astronomical body's atmosphere, especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather...

s and reef
Reef
In nautical terminology, a reef is a rock, sandbar, or other feature lying beneath the surface of the water ....

s are common threats. The lakes are prone to sudden and severe storms, particularly in the autumn, from late October until early December. Hundreds of ships have met their end on the lakes. The greatest concentration of shipwrecks lies near Thunder Bay (Michigan)
Thunder Bay (Michigan)
Thunder Bay is a bay in the U.S. state of Michigan on Lake Huron. The bay extends from North Point at to South Point at .The city of Alpena lies at the mouth of the Thunder Bay River at...

, beneath Lake Huron, near the point where eastbound and westbound shipping lanes converge.

The Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

 shipwreck coast from Grand Marais, Michigan
Grand Marais, Michigan
Grand Marais is an unincorporated community in Burt Township, Alger County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located on Lake Superior at and is the eastern gateway to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore via H-58....

, to Whitefish Point became known as the "Graveyard of the Great Lakes". More vessels have been lost in the Whitefish Point area than any other part of Lake Superior. The Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve
Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve
The Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve was established in 1987 to protect and conserve shipwrecks and historical resources on of Lake Superior bottomlands in Whitefish Bay and around Whitefish Point, Michigan. The formation of the Michigan Underwater Preserves helped stop controversy over...

 serves as an underwater museum to protect the many shipwrecks in this area.

The first shipwreck was Le Griffon
Le Griffon
Le Griffon was a 17th century sailing ship built by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in his quest to find the Northwest Passage to China and Japan....

, the first ship to sail the Great Lakes. Caught in a storm while trading furs between Green Bay and Michilimacinac, it sank during a storm and has possibly been found. The last major freighter wrecked on the lakes was the , which sank on November 10, 1975, just over 17 miles (27.4 km) offshore from Whitefish Point. The largest loss of life in a shipwreck out on the lakes may have been that of the , wrecked in 1860 with the loss of around 400 lives. In an incident at a Chicago dock in 1915, the rolled over while loading passengers, killing 841.

In August 2007, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is located at the Whitefish Point Light Station north of Paradise in Chippewa County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The light station property was transferred to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society , the Michigan Audubon Society , and the United States...

 announced that it had found the wreckage of Cyprus, a 420 feet (128 m) long, century-old ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 carrier. Cyprus sank during a Lake Superior storm on October 11, 1907, during its second voyage while hauling iron ore from Superior, Wisconsin
Superior, Wisconsin
Superior is a city in and the county seat of Douglas County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 26,960 at the 2010 census. Located at the junction of U.S. Highways 2 and 53, it is north of and adjacent to both the Village of Superior and the Town of Superior.Superior is at the western...

, to Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

. The entire crew of 23 drowned, except one, a man named Charles Pitz, who floated on a life raft for almost seven hours.

In June 2008 deep sea divers in Lake Ontario found the wreck of the 1780 Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 warship in what has been described as an "archaeological miracle". There are no plans to raise her as the site is being treated as a war grave.

In June 2010 the L.R. Doty
L.R. Doty
The L.R. Doty was a Great Lakes steamship launched in May 1893 at West Bay City, Michigan, and last seen afloat October 25, 1898 north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during a violent storm on Lake Michigan, with winds reaching . 17 crew members died....

 was found in Lake Michigan by an exploration diving team led by Dive Boat Captain Jitka Hanakova from her boat the Molly V after sinking in October 1898. The ship sank, probably rescuing a small schooner the Olive Jeanette, during a terrible storm. There are no plans to raise the ship as it would quickly deteriorate in open air.

Still missing are the two last warships to sink in the Great Lakes, Inkerman and Cerisoles Minesweepers
Inkerman and Cerisoles Minesweepers
The Inkerman and Cerisoles Minesweepers are two French warships named after two major battles fought during the Crimean War, that vanished on their maiden voyage in a Great Lakes storm in Lake Superior sometime in mid-November 1918. No traces of the two vessels have ever been found. Seventy-six...

, which vanished in Lake Superior during a blizzard in 1918. 78 lives were lost making it the largest loss of life in Lake Superior and the great unexplained loss of life in the Great Lakes.

Related articles


  • :Category:Shipwrecks in the Great Lakes
  • List of Great Lakes shipwrecks
  • Great Storms of the North American Great Lakes
    Great Storms of the North American Great Lakes
    Ever since people have traveled the Great Lakes storms have taken lives and vessels. The first sailing vessel the Le Griffin was lost on its return from Green Bay in 1679. Since that time, memorable storms have swept the lakes, often in November taking men and ships to their death...

  • Great Lakes Storm of 1913
    Great Lakes Storm of 1913
    The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the "Big Blow", "Jeff Kinsland's Wash," the "Freshwater Fury" or the "White Hurricane", was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario...


  • Mataafa Storm
    Mataafa Storm
    The Mataafa Storm of 1905 is the name of a storm that occurred on the Great Lakes on November 28, 1905. The storm, named after the Mataafa wreck, ended up destroying or damaging about 29 vessels, killing 36 seamen and causing property losses of approximately $1.75 million on Lake...

     of 1905
  • Michigan Underwater Preserves
    Michigan Underwater Preserves
    Michigan Underwater Preserves or Michigan Bottomland Preserves are protected areas of the Great Lakes on Michigan's coast. The eleven designated areas, comprising a surface area of over , are considered to be "Underwater museums" and serve to protect concentrations of shipwrecks, unique geologic...

  • Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
    Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
    The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve is a U.S. National Marine Sanctuary on Thunder Bay, part of Lake Huron, within the U.S. state of Michigan. The sanctuary and underwater preserve protects an estimated 116 historically significant shipwrecks ranging from nineteenth...



Great Lakes water use and diversions


The International Joint Commission
International Joint Commission
The International Joint Commission is an independent binational organization established by the United States and Canada under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.The Commission has responsibilities related to the following treaties and agreements:...

 was established in 1909 to help prevent and resolve disputes relating to the use and quality of boundary waters, and to advise Canada and the United States on questions related to water resources. Concerns over diversion of Lake water are of concern to both Americans and Canadians. Some water is diverted through the Chicago River
Chicago River
The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of that runs through the city of the same name, including its center . Though not especially long, the river is notable for being the reason why Chicago became an important location, as the link between the Great Lakes and...

 to operate the Illinois Waterway
Illinois Waterway
The Illinois Waterway system consists of of water from the mouth of the Calumet River to the mouth of the Illinois River at Grafton, Illinois. It is a system of rivers, lakes, and canals which provide a shipping connection from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The...

 but the flow is limited by treaty. Possible schemes for bottled water plants and diversion to dry regions of the continent raise concerns. Under the U.S. "Water Resources Development Act", diversion of water from the Great Lakes Basin
Great Lakes Basin
The Great Lakes Basin consists of the Great Lakes and the surrounding lands of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the United States, and the province of Ontario in Canada, whose direct surface runoff and watersheds form a large...

 requires the approval of all eight Great Lakes governors through the Great Lakes Commission
Great Lakes Commission
The Great Lakes Commission is a United States interstate agency established in 1955 through the Great Lakes Compact, in order to "promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin," which includes the Saint Lawrence...

, which rarely occurs. International treaties regulate large diversions. In 1998, the Canadian company Nova Group won approval from the Province of Ontario to withdraw 158000000 U.S.gal of Lake Superior water annually to ship by tanker to Asian countries. Public outcry forced the company to abandon the plan before it began. Since that time, the eight Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec have negotiated the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact that would prevent most future diversion proposals and all long-distance ones. The agreements also strengthen protection against abusive water withdrawal practices within the Great Lakes basin. On December 13, 2005, the Governors and Premiers signed these two agreements, the first of which is between all ten jurisdictions. It is somewhat more detailed and protective, though its legal strength has not yet been tested in court. The second, the Great Lakes Compact
Great Lakes Compact
The Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact is a legally binding interstate compact among the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The compact details how the states manage the use of the Great Lakes Basin's water...

, has been approved by the state legislatures of all eight states that border the Great Lakes as well as the U.S. Congress, and was signed into law by President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 on 3 October 2008.

Coast Guard live fire exercises


In 2006, the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 (USCG) proposed a plan to designate 34 areas in the Great Lakes, at least five miles (8 km) offshore, as permanent safety zones for live fire machine gun practice. In August 2006 the plan was published in the Federal Register
Federal Register
The Federal Register , abbreviated FR, or sometimes Fed. Reg.) is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains most routine publications and public notices of government agencies...

. The USCG reserved the right to hold target practice whenever the weather allowed with a two hour notice. These firing ranges would be open to the public when not in use. In response to requests from the public, the Coast Guard held a series of public meetings in nine U.S. cities to solicit comment. During these meetings many people voiced concerns about the plan and its impact on the environment.

A preliminary health risk assessment
Health risk assessment
A health risk assessment is one of the most widely used screening tools in the field of health promotion and is often the first step in multi-component health promotion programs....

 stated that the "proposed training will result in no elevated risks for a freshwater system such as the Great Lakes using 'realistic worst case' assumptions, and further investigation is not recommended ... if typical rather than worst case assumptions were used, the predicted risk would be even less." However, the assessment was based on lead levels after five years, and so one could infer that lead levels could meet or exceed EPA safe levels for lead after fifteen years.

On December 18, 2006, the Coast Guard announced its decision to withdraw the entire proposal. Officials said they would look into alternative ammunition, modifying the proposed zones and have more public dialogue before proposing a new plan.

Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act


During the 109th United States Congress
109th United States Congress
The One Hundred Ninth United States Congress was the legislative branch of the United States, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, from January 3, 2005 to January 3, 2007, during the fifth and sixth years of George W. Bush's presidency. House members...

 in 2006, the Great Lakes Collaboration Implementation Act (Bill HR5100) was introduced to enact the recommendations of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, an effort established in 2004 to produce a strategy for restoring and maintaining the Great Lakes. The bill was introduced by U.S. senators
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Mike DeWine
Mike DeWine
Richard Michael "Mike" DeWine is the Attorney General for the state of Ohio. He has held numerous offices on the state and federal level, including Ohio State Senator, four terms as a U.S. Congressman, Ohio Lt. Governor, and was a two-term U.S. Senator, serving from 1995 to 2007.- Biography :Born...

 and Carl Levin
Carl Levin
Carl Milton Levin is a Jewish-American United States Senator from Michigan, serving since 1979. He is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

, along with representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Vern Ehlers
Vern Ehlers
Vernon James "Vern" Ehlers is the former U.S. Representative for , serving from 1993 until 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party....

 and Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Israel Emanuel is an American politician and the 55th and current Mayor of Chicago. He was formerly White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama...

.

The bill states that "the Great Lakes are on the brink of an ecologic catastrophe" and that "if the pattern of deterioration is not reversed immediately, the damage could be irreparable". It cites the closing of over 1,800 beaches in 2003, the 6300 square miles (16,316.9 km²) dead zone
Dead zone (ecology)
Dead zones are hypoxic areas in the world's oceans, the observed incidences of which have been increasing since oceanographers began noting them in the 1970s. These occur near inhabited coastlines, where aquatic life is most concentrated...

 in Lake Erie, and the U.S.$500 million damage each year due to the zebra mussel
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

 as evidences that "a comprehensive restoration of the system is needed to prevent the Great Lakes from collapsing".

A press release states that the bill aimed to stop the introduction and spreading of invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

, prevent the Asian carp
Asian carp
Many species of heavy-bodied cyprinid fish are collectively known in the United States as Asian carp. Cyprinids from the subcontinent [for example, catla and mrigal ] are not included in this classification, and are known collectively as "Indian carp".Eight Asian carp have been substantially...

 from invading the Great Lakes, phase out mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...

, restore animal habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s, and prevent sewage
Sewage
Sewage is water-carried waste, in solution or suspension, that is intended to be removed from a community. Also known as wastewater, it is more than 99% water and is characterized by volume or rate of flow, physical condition, chemical constituents and the bacteriological organisms that it contains...

 contamination.

The bill did not pass, and was subsequently introduced in the 111th United States Congress
111th United States Congress
The One Hundred Eleventh United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government from January 3, 2009 until January 3, 2011. It began during the last two weeks of the George W. Bush administration, with the remainder spanning the first two years of...

 as Senate Bill 237, where it did not proceed past the committee stage; no such legislation as a whole is planned to be introduced in the 112th Congress
112th United States Congress
The One Hundred Twelfth United States Congress is the current meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It convened in Washington, D.C. on January 3, 2011, and will end on January...

.

Additions to the five Great Lakes


Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is a natural, freshwater lake in North America, located mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada—United States border in the Canadian province of Quebec.The New York portion of the Champlain Valley includes the eastern portions of...

, a lake on the border between upstate New York and northwestern Vermont that is part of the Saint Lawrence-Great Lakes Watershed, briefly became labeled by the U.S. government as the sixth "Great Lake of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

" on March 6, 1998, when President Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 signed Senate Bill 927. This bill, which reauthorized the National Sea Grant Program, contained a line penned by Senator Patrick Leahy
Patrick Leahy
Patrick Joseph Leahy is the senior United States Senator from Vermont and member of the Democratic Party. He is the first and only elected Democratic United States Senator in Vermont's history. He is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy is the second most senior U.S. Senator,...

 (D-VT) declaring Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is a natural, freshwater lake in North America, located mainly within the borders of the United States but partially situated across the Canada—United States border in the Canadian province of Quebec.The New York portion of the Champlain Valley includes the eastern portions of...

 to be a Great Lake. Not coincidentally, this status allows neighboring states to apply for additional federal research and education funds allocated to these national resources. The claim was viewed with some amusement by other countries, particularly in the Canadian media
Media in Canada
Canada has a well-developed media sector, but its cultural output — particularly in English films, television shows, and magazines — is often overshadowed by imports from the United States. Television, magazines, and newspapers are primarily for-profit corporations based on advertising,...

, and the lake is small compared to other Canadian lakes (such as Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake
Great Bear Lake is the largest lake entirely within Canada , the third or fourth largest in North America, and the seventh or eighth largest in the world...

 which has over 27 times more surface area). Following a small uproar (and several New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 and Time Magazine articles), the Great Lake status was rescinded on March 24, 1998 (although Vermont universities continue to receive funds to monitor and study the lake).

Similarly, there has been interest in making Lake St. Clair a Great Lake. In October 2002, backers planned to present such a proposal at the Great Lakes Commission
Great Lakes Commission
The Great Lakes Commission is a United States interstate agency established in 1955 through the Great Lakes Compact, in order to "promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin," which includes the Saint Lawrence...

 annual meeting, but ultimately withheld it as it appeared to them to have too little support.

See also


  • Lake Michigan-Huron
    Lake Michigan-Huron
    Lake Michigan-Huron is geologically the largest of the North American Great Lakes. Traditionally considered to be two separate lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, it is hydrologically a single body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac....

  • Lake Saint Clair (North America)
    Lake Saint Clair (North America)
    Lake St. Clair is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline...

  • Eastern Continental Divide
    Eastern Continental Divide
    The Eastern Continental Divide, in conjunction with other continental divides of North America, demarcates two watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean: the Gulf of Mexico watershed and the Atlantic Seaboard watershed. Prior to 1760, the divide represented the boundary between British and French colonial...

  • Great Lakes Areas of Concern
    Great Lakes Areas of Concern
    Great Lakes Areas of Concern are designated geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin that show severe environmental degradation. There are a total of 43 areas of concern within the Great Lakes, 26 being in the U.S., 17 in Canada, with five shared by the two countries.The Great Lakes, the...

  • Great Lakes census statistical areas
    Great Lakes census statistical areas
    Along the Great Lakes, there are 27 United States census statistical areas - 10 Combined Statistical Areas, 7 Metropolitan Statistical Areas , and 3 Micropolitan Statistical Areas , as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Table:The following sortable table lists the 27...

  • Great Lakes Commission
    Great Lakes Commission
    The Great Lakes Commission is a United States interstate agency established in 1955 through the Great Lakes Compact, in order to "promote the orderly, integrated and comprehensive development, use and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes Basin," which includes the Saint Lawrence...

  • Great Lakes Megalopolis
    Great Lakes Megalopolis
    The Great Lakes Megalopolis consists of the group of North American metropolitan areas which surround the Great Lakes region mainly within the Midwestern United States, the Southern Ontario area of Canada, along with large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, and Quebec...

  • Great Lakes region (North America)
    Great Lakes region (North America)
    The Great Lakes region of North America, occasionally known as the Third Coast or the Fresh Coast , includes the eight U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian province of Ontario...

  • Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal
    Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal
    The Great Recycling and Northern Development Canal of North America or GCNA is a water management proposal designed by Newfoundland engineer Thomas Kierans to alleviate North American freshwater shortage problems...

  • International Boundary Waters Treaty
    International Boundary Waters Treaty
    The Boundary Waters Treaty is the 1909 treaty between the United States and Canada providing mechanisms for resolving any dispute over any waters bordering the two countries...


  • List of cities along the Great Lakes
  • List of municipalities on the Great Lakes
  • Great Lakes WATER Institute‎
  • Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge
    Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge
    The Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge is a designation for eight Michigan islands in the North American Great Lakes. Owned by the United States federal government, they were set aside for ecosystem protection purposes by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1943.Charity, Little Charity,...

  • Michigan Underwater Preserves
    Michigan Underwater Preserves
    Michigan Underwater Preserves or Michigan Bottomland Preserves are protected areas of the Great Lakes on Michigan's coast. The eleven designated areas, comprising a surface area of over , are considered to be "Underwater museums" and serve to protect concentrations of shipwrecks, unique geologic...

  • Muskellunge
    Muskellunge
    A muskellunge , also known as a muskelunge, muscallonge, milliganong, or maskinonge , is a large, relatively uncommon freshwater fish of North America. Muskellunge are the largest member of the pike family, Esocidae...

  • Northern Pike
    Northern Pike
    The northern pike , is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox...



  • Seiche
  • Sixty Years' War
    Sixty Years' War
    The Sixty Years' War was a military struggle for control of the Great Lakes region in North America, encompassing a number of wars over several generations. The term Sixty Years' War is not widely known, and is used primarily by academic historians who specialize in various aspects of the conflict...

     for control of the Great Lakes
  • Snowbelt
    Snowbelt
    Snowbelt is a term describing of a number of regions near the Great Lakes in North America where heavy snowfall in the form of lake-effect snow is particularly common. Snowbelts are typically found downwind of the lakes, principally off the eastern and southern shores...

  • Surfing the Great Lakes
    Lake surfing
    Lake surfing is a form of surfing that takes place primarily on the Great Lakes, where a large surface area and strong storms, particularly in the fall and winter, can produce large waves. During these surf seasons there is usually snow on the ground and some ice in the water, requiring some...

  • Third Coast
  • Valparaiso Moraine
    Valparaiso Moraine
    The Valparaiso Moraine is a terminal moraine around the Lake Michigan basin in North America. It is a band of high, hilly terrain made up of glacial till and sand that reaches an elevation of near 300 feet above the level of Lake Michigan at its maximum height in Indiana and 17 miles wide at its...



Further reading




External links