Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fun Facts About the Great Lakes – Shipwrecks & Mysteries

The Shapes of Lake Superior
The Great Lakes are a series of interconnected freshwater lakes located in North America along the Canadian border. Created by melt water around 14,000 years ago as a glacier moved across the land and carved out the beginning of the great lakes, they are now the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth. As we marvel at their beauty and mystery, we have compiled some of our favorite findings to share with you.

Over 6,000 shipwrecks are buried beneath the waters of the Great Lakes, and with 14,000 years of history, we wonder what else they are hiding. The cold water of the lakes has aided in the preservation of the wrecks for over a hundred years.

The Mystery of The Thomas Hume
The Thomas Hume disappeared without a trace on May 21, 1891 with 7 men aboard, while transporting lumber to Chicago. The disappearance lead to many speculations. Some suggested that it was struck by a larger freighter, or that the crew had ran off with the ship. Others have suggested paranormal activity or that it had mistakenly sailed into the ‘Michigan Triangle’. The mystery was ultimately put to rest in 2006, when diver Taras Lysenko came across the vessel at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The ship lay undisturbed at a great depth for well over a century, leaving it remarkably preserved.

Most recently, in July of 2015, a team of divers discovered the remains of a 436-foot steamship named Hydrus that sunk while carrying a load of iron ore. Hydrus is believed to have sunk in a massive storm in November of 1913 that destroyed 19 ships and killed over 250 people. The other ships that sunk during that storm have been recovered, but Hydrus had eluded shipwreck hunters for decades, until now.

One of the other many wrecks was a Canadian Military ship sunk in Lake Ontario in 1804. A Canadian man located the wreckage in 1990 and submitted a request to the Canadian Government to recover the artifacts. As of the fall of 2012, he is still waiting for permission.

Lake Superior is so big that all of the other Great Lakes combined would easily fit inside it. Lake Superior even surrounds an island that is home to several lakes of its own, and it contains 10 percent of fresh surface water of the whole world!

Lake Erie is supposedly home to a 40-foot creature named Bessie! But she must be feeling shy because no one has reported seeing her since 1973.

Lake Huron at Sunset
Lakes Huron and Michigan are, in hydrologic terms, one lake. They are separated by the Straights of Mackinac, but they have the same average water level because water flows freely between the two bodies of water. Lake Huron sits atop part of the world's largest salt mine! The Goodrich Mine produces about 175,000 tons of high-quality rock salt each year.

Diving below the surface of Lake Huron can be like taking a time machine back in time three million years! Earth's prehistoric oceans contained higher amounts of sulfur and lower amounts of oxygen than they do now, and the life forms that lived in them were unique to these conditions. These unique ecosystems still thrive in massive sink holes in the bed of Lake Huron!

Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes whose shoreline is entirely within the United States. The other four lakes extend into Canada.

Lake Michigan is bordered by the largest expanse of fresh water sand dunes in the world.

Among many treasures believed to be lying on the bottom of Lake Ontario is a baseball hit over the fence of Hanlan's Point Stadium by none other than Babe Ruth. It was his first major league home run.

If you are a lover of the Great Lakes, you would enjoy our framed 3D bathymetric charts depicting the shoreline and depths and bottom contours of The Great Lakes. Maybe share with a friend for a future gift idea!

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