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Lake Winnipeg is the 13th-largest lake in the world and the 11th-largest freshwater lake, with a surface area covering 9.46 sq. mi (24,514 sq. km).
In 1690, English explorer Henry Kelsey was the first European to visit the lake. It is situated in a lowland basin and has an approximate length of 258 mi (416 km) and a width of 68 mi (109 km).
The name 'Winnipeg' comes from 'winipek', which means 'muddy waters'. This is due to the high levels of chlorophyll present in the water. Though the lake is large, it is not very deep, with a maximum depth of 118 ft (36 m) and only 39 ft (12 m) of average depth. Lake Winnipeg has the largest watershed area among all the lakes in Manitoba, Canada. The mean annual precipitation in the Lake Winnipeg watershed area is 15.7 - 23.6 in (400 - 600 mm). A lowland basin was carved out of the limestone and shale bedrock in the Ice Ages by the continental glaciers, where the lake lies.
Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, is surrounded with amazing natural features: there are perfect sandy beaches, large limestone cliffs, numerous bat caves, virgin forests, and many rivers all around. Lake Winnipeg is what remains of the large glacial Lake Agassiz. It has a large watershed and drains approximately an area of 379,500 sq. mi (982,900 sq. km). The lake receives water from four U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.
Apart from Lake Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba has two other large lakes, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis, and all three have the same origin.
Have you enjoyed reading these facts about this large freshwater lake in Manitoba? If so, read on below to find out more.
Lake Winnipeg is the 13th-largest lake in the world and plays an important role in tourism, recreation, sport, fisheries, and hydroelectric generation in Manitoba.
For hydroelectric development on the Nelson River, Manitoba Hydro uses Lake Winnipeg, as it is the largest reservoir. This is part of the Hudson Bay watershed and this was once known as Rupert's Land when the Hudson Bay Company was chartered in 1670.
On the eastern side, the lake is bordered by pristine forests and rivers, and on the northern part, the lake drains into the Nelson River.
The lake is the world's 10th-largest freshwater lake by surface area, and is situated in South-Central North America, and its southern end is just 34 mi (55 km) from Manitoba, Winnipeg. Almost 75% of the water in the lake comes from the Winnipeg and Saskatchewan rivers. Other rivers, including the Red, Dauphin, and Berens, contribute 25%, and only one river, the Nelson River, flows out of Lake Winnipeg. The Saskatchewan River comes in from the west, and the Red River flows in from the south while the Winnipeg River enters from the south-east. The lake extends along the Red River to the Mississippi, up to the states of North Dakota and Minnesota.
One of the oldest trading routes lies along Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was a strategic trading route, and much trading occurred between Rupert's Land and the U.S.A. Many protected areas, such as the Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park, Elk Provincial Park, and Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park, are situated along the lake. However, currently, there are some environmental threats, including the presence of invasive species such as zebra mussels. The Global Nature Fund declared the lake as 'the threatened lake of the year' in 2013.
Lake Winnipeg is a great place to visit but how was it formed? Read on to find out more:
The water in Lake Winnipeg takes approximately three to five years to move through the lake, about 1.3 years in the south basin and 3.5 years in the north basin.
This is quite fast when compared to other large lakes, such as Lake Superior, which is the largest in Canada, where it can take up to 191 years. The word Winnipeg comes from 'big muddy waters,' and Winnipegosis means 'little muddy waters.' Almost 12,000 years ago, a large glacial lake filled the Lake Agassiz Basin and the Manitoba Lowlands sit on the drained glacial lake bottom, with three lakes, Winnipeg, Winnipegosis, and Manitoba, occupying it.
Because Lake Winnipeg is so long, it has served as an important transportation route in the past. Apart from the native canoes and York boats, many steamboats, including the 'Princess' and 'Winnitoba', were also used. Lake Winnipeg lies along some of the oldest trading routes on the continent.
There are many islands within the lake, including Reindeer, Berens, Hecla, and Black, and together they form a part of the Hecla Provincial Park. Birch Island is the largest and situated in the middle of Winnipegosis, part of the Birch Island Provincial Park.
The drainage basin of the lake is home to almost eight million people, and several communities live on the shores, such as Grand Beach, Lester Beach, Winnipeg Beach, Victoria Beach, and Pine Falls. Unfortunately, the phosphorus levels have reached a point where the lake water is dangerous for human health. Invasive species and pollution can affect the ecosystem badly and cause problems to fish, birds, and human health. However, you can still see pelicans on Lake Winnipeg.
Lake Winnipeg is an important site for recreational and commercial fisheries. Manitoba's fishing industry revenue mostly comes from the commercial fisheries of Lake Winnipeg. Find out more fascinating information about fishing below:
Commercial fishing is mainly based at Gimli, and 80% of local commercial fishing is in mullet and northern pike, with ice fishing is also popular from November to May. Several fish species can be found in Lake Winnipeg, such as catfish, cod, common carp, pike, sunfish, and many more. Two fish species, the short jaw cisco, and the big mouth buffalo found here, are thought to be at risk. There is a limit to how many walleyes (or yellow pike) someone can keep from Lake Winnipeg: four with a conservation license and six with a regular license, and no fish should be shorter than 1.14 ft (35 cm). Other species of fish include bluefin tuna, rainbow trout, and white bass. The common carp and rainbow trout are not natives and were introduced to the waters later.
Some invasive aquatic species also thrive in the waters of Lake Winnipeg. Due to an increase in nutrients in the '90s, the phytoplankton biomass has doubled. Together with the presence of harmful species, such as zebra mussels, this has created an environmental threat for the lake. A higher concentration of nutrients is generally at the south end of the lake and less in the north.
Lake Winnipeg and its shores are of key importance for several types of birds, so if you would like to find out more, read below:
Very often, you can see pelicans taking over the lake along with gulls, cormorants, and terns. Some endangered species of birds can also be found here. Where the Red River flows into Lake Winnipeg, it creates the Netley-Libau Marsh. Ducks, swallows, and geese use this area to collect and group before their southward migration. Piping plovers are commonly known to be an endangered species of shorebirds but are found here in many locations around the lake.
Wild sandpiper birds are visible very often around Lake Winnipeg, and bald eagles are common in the summer months. Other birds seen in and around Lake Winnipeg are double-crested cormorants, common terns, herring gulls, and ring-billed gulls. Lake Winnipeg is not considered a Great Lake mainly because of its average depth, which is only 36 ft (11 m), and the maximum depth is only 118 ft (36 m), but the lake supports a lot of aquatic life and birdlife. The lake is shallow, so its water column is not stratified.
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