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5 Shocking Things About the Great Lakes
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December 1, 2019
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Travel Trivia Editorial
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Many people know that the Great Lakes region holds some impressive records. These interconnected water bodies, also known as the Laurentian Great Lakes or the Great Lakes of North America, are also full of intrigue. From subaquatic chasms to tales of monstrously oversized cryptids, here are some shocking facts about the Great Lakes.

Sinkholes Are Lurking Beneath Lake Huron

Colorful Waters above a descending underwater coast on Lake Huron
Credit: Wildnerdpix/ iStock

In 2001, researchers discovered numerous sinkholes beneath the waters of Lake Huron, and they suspect that Lake Michigan is hiding quite a few of them as well. The high sulfate and low oxygen environment at the bottom of these sinkholes are reminiscent of Earth's primordial oceans. These environments are in sharp contrast to the freshwater of the rest of the lake, and the lake's freshwater fish species stay far away from the submerged anomalies.

Such an unusual setting is the ideal habitat for the strange and bizarre underwater ecosystems that thrive in the Lake Huron sinkholes. They're populated with cyanobacteria and other curious microbes. Having existed here for eons, these ancient microorganisms are the cause of the lakebed's bright purple, green, and white floor.

The Lake Michigan Triangle Keeps Grave Secrets

A scuba diver explores an old, wooden shipwreck in Lake Michigan
Credit: Velvetfish/ iStock

Lake Michigan has its own version of the Bermuda Triangle, where tragic and unexplained events happen with some regularity. Strange incidents are reported to occur within the area inside Lake Michigan's southern end. The place in question stretches from Ludington to Benton Harbor, Michigan, all the way to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Ships and airplanes have met an untimely end here. In 2007, a perplexing rock formation was discovered 50 feet below the water's surface. Uncharted lights and sudden extreme weather events have put a cloud of apprehension over this locale.

The unexplained events have caused some to wonder if supernatural forces may be at work in the vicinity of the Lake Michigan Triangle. UFOs are rumored to visit the area. Whether this location is the site of an electromagnetic field, a portal to an alternate dimension, or something else entirely that no one understands is up for debate.

The Ghost Fleet Makes 'Frequent Appearances'

The north shore of Lake Superior
Credit: nikitsin.smugmug.com/ Shutterstock 

With thousands of shipwrecks associated with the region, Lake Superior, the largest lake in the system, has swallowed its fair share ships. There's even a Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum surrounded by the shores of Lake Superior. It's devoted to the display of shipwrecks claimed by the massive lake.

Tales of ghosts and ghost ships have flourished all around the Great Lakes. The spectral vessels around these waters are known collectively by locals as the Ghost Fleet.

One notable ship from this group is the Canadian Freighter Bannockburn. Its 1902 disappearance on Lake Superior was never explained. It's said that she still sails the area around the Soo Locks (between Lake Superior and Lake Huron) and Port Arthur, Michigan.

Lake Erie Hosts a Legendary Monster

Two sturgeon swimming in water
Credit: Ekaterina Aleshinskaya/ iStock 

Just like other places around the world, the waters of Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie are reputedly home to a large unknown creature. The creature's length extends up to 35 feet, according to some reports. Locals know the water monster as Bessie. She was named after Nessie, Scotland's famous Loch Ness Monster, due to the resemblance of the two creatures' descriptions.

First reported by sailors in 1793, she's been documented several times via an 800-number exclusively designed for Bessie sightings. The phone line was established by an editor of The Beacon in Port Clinton, Ohio, after a 1990 sighting of the elusive cryptid left locals on a lake outing unnerved. There is a $5,000 reward waiting for anyone who can produce Bessie alive.

Skeptics claim that the monster is merely an oversized sturgeon. Despite this logical explanation, residents of the area love to keep the legend of Bessie alive.

The Lorax Used to Call Lake Erie 'Smeary'

Close view of Lake Erie's surface near the shore
Credit: Daniel Novak/ Shutterstock

In 1971, Lake Erie had a famous reputation as a polluted wasteland. This notorious fact made its way onto the pages of Dr. Seuss's classic children's environmental treatise, The Lorax. "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie," he wrote, also using the adjective "smeary" to describe the lake's contaminated waters.

But fifteen years later, two grad students at the Ohio Sea Grant Education Program wrote a letter to the famous author to inform him of the positive changes that had been made. After diligent cleanup work by concerned citizens and others, the lake had been cleaned up. The reputation, they thought, no longer applied. They asked Dr. Seuss to change the line from the book, and he did. From then on, the Lake Erie line was to be omitted from the story — to the great relief of local residents!