Are There Sharks In Lake Michigan? The Truth Disclosed! | Kidadl


Are There Sharks In Lake Michigan? The Truth Disclosed!

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The five Great Lakes of North America include Lake Michigan which is located in the United States.

Considered a place of great beauty and very popular with tourists, this water body has a dark side as well. Unfortunately, a high number of people drown at Lake Michigan every year because of the harsh water currents.

There are also rumors of bull sharks and other deadly creatures lurking in the lake. However, these claims have been dismissed as rumors, as sharks are saltwater creatures and would not thrive easily in freshwater lakes, not even great white sharks. The only shark able to survive in freshwater environments is the bull shark that can recycle salt levels in its kidneys, keeping its cells from rupturing. Though bull sharks would not be able to access Lake Michigan easily due to the presence of the Chicago electric barrier at the south and Niagara Falls, miles away to the northeast. There was a sighting of a bull shark in Deep Creek Lake in Maryland in 1983, though similar incidents have not been reported since then. There have been no instances of people being attacked by bull sharks in Lake Michigan waters, and any shark sightings have been theorized to be lake sturgeon fish instead. The biggest concern for people planning to swim in this lake is not a bull shark attack, but how to deal with the dangerous riptides!

If you enjoyed this article, you can also check out our pages on thresher shark facts and are there penguins in the North Pole?

What is the most dangerous animal in Lake Michigan?

Though there have been some reports of bull sharks existing in Lake Michigan, there has not been a lot of scientific evidence to support these claims, nor have any people been attacked. Lake Michigan is filled with many dangerous animals, however it is quite unlikely that sharks are one of them. The temperature of the Great Lakes, as well as the weather surrounding them, is actually quite low with water temperatures ranging from between 41-48 F (5-9 C).

Though most sharks are saltwater species, the bull shark is a shark species that lives in freshwater environments. Though most sharks would not be able able to handle the absence of salt in water, causing their cells to rupture, a bull shark's kidneys are able to recycle salt and maintain proper salt levels while it is in a freshwater environment. Found in lakes and rivers, this shark only returns to the sea to breed. Even though this shark can be found in freshwater habitats, it is believed that the Great Lakes are too cold for a bull shark to live comfortably, even during the summer. The bull shark's range normally spans thousands of miles, from Massachusetts to Brazil, which falls in the southern part of North America, meaning it is closer to the equator and has warmer waters. Bull sharks are normally found in coastal areas, lakes, and rivers in these warmer regions. Though bull sharks have been spotted in the Mississippi River, which joins Lake Michigan, they most likely do not make their way to the actual lake from the ocean because of the presence of locks and dams which make this journey tricky.

These sharks would also have to pass the infamous electric barrier constructed on the Illinois waterway, near Chicago, which keeps away invasive species from entering the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. If this animal tried to enter from the other side, the bull shark would somehow have to cross Niagara Falls, which borders the Canadian state of Ontario and cross Lake Huron to enter Lake Michigan. Though there have been similar reports of dead sharks washing up on the shores of Lakes Huron, Erie, and Superior, these claims do not have any scientifically documented evidence to back them up either. The only sharks you are bound to find in the Great Lakes region are those in an aquarium, many of which are a few feet away from the lake waters rather than in the lakes themselves.

Even though you may see sharks swimming up and down the connecting rivers to Lake Michigan and the ocean, it is very unlikely that you will actually find any bull sharks there. Many shark sightings have been credited to being hallucinations or mirages caused by the sun, or misidentification of a lake sturgeon fish, a large fish that is shark-like in appearance. They could be hoaxes due to these reasons.

Despite the absence of sharks in this lake, there are still a number of dangerous animals to keep a lookout for.

Similar to the bull shark, there have been sightings of piranhas in Lake Michigan. There have only been reports of small populations in the extreme corners of the lake and not full-fledged infestations. These swarms have not been described as very dangerous, as piranhas do not usually attack humans as represented in the media. They only attack on occasion. If you are planning a visit to Lake Michigan, piranhas should not be a concern for you.

Another dangerous creature is the sea lamprey, a horrifying looking parasitic creature that uses its sharp teeth to clamp onto its prey, making holes in its body and then inserting its rough tongue to access its blood and other bodily fluids. These creatures do not attack humans, instead preferring to go after different fish. However, these creatures are quite dangerous to the environment because they are an invasive species. By attacking various fish species in the lake, it can cause a major decrease in local populations. This creature is also very adaptable and can reproduce very quickly.

Snapping turtles, true to their name, can snap your fingers off if you get too close! These large freshwater turtles have very flexible necks, which they can extend and retract at lightning speed. Though they do not attack humans, they may use their powerful bite if provoked or startled. Despite this, they are non-confrontational and will normally slip away quietly and hide if they come across any swimmers, only attacking people who threaten them.

Another dangerous organism that is prevalent in the Great Lakes is Cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae. This algae reproduces quickly in warmer environments when the movement of the water is slow and can survive in nutrient-rich waters. It is usually caused when pollutants like the contents of septic tanks, manure, and other organic waste are deposited into the lakes. Though the algae itself is harmless, in large numbers it can release cyanotoxins. These can cause rashes and blisters on the bodies of swimmers, or cause health issues like breathing difficulties, intestinal problems, vomiting, or dizziness if ingested. Swallowing large amounts of it can also adversely affect your kidneys or liver.

The presence of dangerous insects along the shores in summer, such as mosquitoes and venomous spiders, should also be looked out for.

Why is swimming in Lake Michigan dangerous?

Swimming in Lake Michigan is not dangerous because of the aquatic animals that live in the lake, instead it is the water currents that can drag people deep into the lake. The Great Lakes have inland beaches, similar to saltwater beaches, which are very popular with holiday goers. However, most people do not take beach safety for lakes as seriously as they do for beaches. Though disasters like tsunamis and high tides do not occur in inland lakes, there are still very dangerous water currents and riptides that can drown people easily. People do not read safety procedures beforehand, which makes them panic if they are caught in these waves and decreases their chance to survive the riptide. Instead of following proper guidelines, they are prone to struggling against the currents, which causes them to exhaust all of their energy and get pulled under.

Most deaths that occur in the vicinity of Lake Michigan occur due to drowning, and not due to bull shark attacks or because of any other natural threats. When planning to swim in any of the Great Lakes, it is advised to always study what to do if caught in a current beforehand, wear a lifejacket, and have backup as well as a lifeboat stationed nearby. Swimmers should not take swimming in Lake Michigan lightly. It is important to know how to respond to strong currents so you do not drown in the cold waters.

Many instances of shark sightings have pointed towards them being lake sturgeon fish instead. There are no legitimate shark attack reports from Lake Michigan either.

Why is Lake Michigan the deadliest lake?

Lake Michigan has earned the reputation of the deadliest among all the Great Lakes of North America, due to the treacherous conditions that result in the deaths of many lake-goers every year.

Lake Michigan is responsible for the most deaths happening in a lake per year, which averages out to 38. Most of these deaths happen because of drowning thanks to the massive waves and strong currents. These waves can hit very hard, and surprise attacks can catch people off guard and drag them into the undertow. Once dragged under, it is very difficult to escape, and many people do not survive, unaware of the proper procedures to follow when caught in such a scenario.

What is the largest wave ever recorded on Lake Michigan?

Lake Michigan is quite notorious for its large, crashing waves that move across the surface of the lake. These waves average at around 20-22 ft (6.1-6.7 m), which is around the height of 3-4 average humans! These large waves are usually caused by changes in the air pressure and winds moving across the surface of the lake. When large storms move quickly across a large lake like Lake Michigan, it causes friction between the strong winds and the surface of the water, resulting in the formation of large waves. These large waves are called 'seiches' and can reach several feet (meters) in height, similar to saltwater waves in the ocean.

Though the largest wave to be recently recorded was 23 ft (7.1 m), which occurred in September 2011, the largest wave ever from Lake Michigan to actually strike the coast of Michigan was around 10 ft (3 m). This wave left eight people dead and left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked reading are there sharks in Lake Michigan? The truth disclosed! then why not take a look at What cheese does Chipotle use? Appetizing yummy cheese facts for kids, or Are there penguins in Alaska? Explore what's the truth!

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?