Tag: Great Lakes

29 Bells

Edmund Fitzgerald sank 36 years ago, 29 died

It’s been 36 years on Thursday since the ore boat Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a violent storm in eastern Lake Superior taking all 29 crew members with her.

The storm of November 9-10, 1975, ranks among the most powerful to strike the Lake Superior region. Various shoreline reporting stations recorded sustained winds of more than 60 mph, with gusts reaching 85 mph. Conditions on the afternoon of Nov. 9 were peaceful and the lake surface was glassy as the Fitzgerald finished loading taconite pellets at the Burlington Northern docks in Superior, Wis.

Forecasters were predicting a quick change as a storm system approached from the west. Captain Ernest McSorley chose a northeasterly course as he headed the ship to the US Steel plant in Zug Island, Mich., outside of Detroit. This course allowed the ship to hug the northern shoreline of Lake Superior and avoid the full force of the northwest winds.

The Fitzgerald was joined by the ore carrier Arthur M. Anderson, which had departed Two Harbors, Minn. The two ships would brave the trip together.

The Edmund Fitzgerald now lies under 530 feet of water, broken in two sections. On July 4, 1995, the ship’s bell was recovered from the wreck, and a replica, engraved with the names of the crew members who perished in this tragedy, was left in its place. The original bell is on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

The November Witch

They are the largest bodies of fresh water on Earth: Huron, Superior, Erie, Ontario, Michigan, the Great Lakes. Like the mighty oceans, their floors are tombs, littered with the silent hulks of once proud ships, awaiting someone to tell their stories. While these sleeping giants await the return of the November Witch.

Before and After Tale from our Great Lakes

I recently had an opportunity

to visit some shorelines on Lake Michigan

and Lake Huron (after almost 2 decades away)

and the peaceful inland seas,

were beautiful and restoring.

But what stunned me most

was the green algae mats, most places

(both dead and living).

The Great Lakes: Trends and Impact.

The modern history of the Great Lakes region can be viewed as a progression of intensifying use of a vast natural resource.   At first it was a matter of making use of the natural resources while avoiding its dangers.

great lakes

Great Lakes: Introduction

Physical Characteristics

The Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – span more than 750 miles from west to east and are an important part of the physical and cultural heritage of North America.  PhotobucketThe complexity and magnitude of the Great Lakes water system is difficult to grasp, even for those who live within the basin.

The lakes cover a total of 294,000 square miles and contain about 5,500 cubic miles of water.  The Great Lakes are the largest collection of fresh, surface water on earth, containing roughly 18 percent of the world supply. Only the polar ice caps contain more fresh water.   Although part of a single system, each lake is different.  

The Great Lakes: fresh water seas

They say the best way to protect something is to personalize it.  So please, meet the Great Lakes…


The environment of the Great Lakes region is blessed with huge forests and wilderness areas, rich agricultural land, hundreds of tributaries and thousands of smaller lakes, and extensive mineral deposits. The region’s glacial history and the tremendous influence of the lakes themselves create unique conditions that support a wealth of biological diversity, including more than 130 rare species and ecosystems.

The environment supports a world-class fishery and a variety of wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, beaver, muskrat, weasel, fox, black bear, bobcat, moose and other furbearing animals. Bird populations thrive on the various terrains, some migrating south in the winter, others making permanent homes. An estimated 180 species of fish are native to the Great Lakes, including small- and large-mouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, lake herring, whitefish, walleye and lake trout. Rare species making their home in the Great Lakes region include the world’s last known population of the white catspaw pearly mussel, the copper redhorse fish and the Kirtland’s warbler.

The region’s sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique or best represented withink the Great Lakes basin. For example, the world’s largest freshwater dunes line the shores of Lake Michigan.

Over the course of history, many types of pollution have inflicted and been reduced in the region, yet significant challenges remain. These range from threats to divert water out of the Great Lakes basin to the introduction of nonindigenous invasive species and airborne toxics into the basin. Protection of water quality and sustainable development remain long-term goals.  Link

Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are courtesy of: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/FSFC, and GeoEye