Great Lakes are a group of five large lakes in North America on or
near the Canada-United States border. They are the largest group of
fresh water lakes in the world. They also have an effect on weather in
the region, known as lake effect. The combined surface area of the
lakes is 94,250 square miles
or 244,100 km²
Today, 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water is
contained in the five great lakes: 5,472 cubic miles
(22,812 km³), or 6 quadrillion U.S. gallons
(22.81 quadrillion litres) in all. It is enough water to cover the
contiguous 48 states to a uniform depth of 9.5 feet (2.9 m).
The Great Lakes coast measures 10,900 miles
(17,549 km) (including islands and connecting channels),
nearly as long as the total US ocean coastline (19,928 km, or 12,383
mi), including Alaska.
Sprinkled throughout the lakes are the approximately 35,000 Great Lakes
islands, including Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, the largest island
in any inland body of water (also home to the world's largest lake
within a lake: Lake Manitou), and Isle Royale in Lake Superior, the
largest island in the largest lake.
The Saint Lawrence Seaway (the largest fresh-water system in the world)
and Great Lakes Waterway opened the Great Lakes to ocean-going vessels.
However the move to wider ocean-going container ships — which
do not fit through the locks on these routes — has limited
shipping on the lakes. Despite their vast size, large sections of the
Great Lakes freeze over
in winter, and most shipping stops during that season.
When a national resource has 8,300 miles of shoreline and 6 quadrillion
gallons of fresh water—making it the largest surface
freshwater system on Earth—it’s bound to attract
some attention. Now surround that resource with eight states, two
Canadian provinces, and multiple tribal lands, and you’ve got
a political hot spot known as the Great Lakes basin. Add to this
picture vast numbers of individuals and industries relying on the water
to serve as their
fishing—and dumping— grounds as well as a source of
drinking water, transportation, recreation, and power, and
it’s no wonder the U.S. government alone has about 140
programs devoted to the care and maintenance of the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes basin has suffered from severe pollution problems, one
of the most dramatic being... read more The
Great Lakes: Awash In Policies by Tina Adler
For centuries the Great Lakes have
treated callously. These five magnificent
lakes—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and
along the eastern half of the
Canadian–U.S. border have served as a virtual sewer catching
waste from industry, agriculture, commercial shipping, and households.
Their natural barriers to other water systems have been breached,
exposing indigenous ecosystems to
aggressive invaders. They’ve been used as a highway for
colossal ships that require deepened and broadened channels to
crisscross the lakes, and that import exotic species along with their
intended cargo. At times it
could seem that this long-suffering water system... read more Great
Lakes - A Resource At Risk
contrast to modern human populations, populations of free-living
wildlife are panmictic and
unaffected by ethnicity, religious practices, and long-distance
immigration, thereby reducing the relative importance of heredity in
wildlife disease. This shifts the focus of the wildlife biologist to
diet and the environment. Read more... Wildlife
As Sentinels of Human Health Effects in the Great
wildlife, like humans, are terminal members of the fish eating guild of
the Great Lakes ecosystem.
most human populations residing in the Great Lakes basin, their diet is
composed almost entirely of fish and components of the Great Lakes food
humans is also affected by occupation, life style, and heredity. In the
case of wildlife, occupation reflects the ecologic niche of a species,
and life style is reflected in prey choice.
are highly mobile and generally widely dispersed. Therefore, health
assessments are limited to those stages of the life cycle when
individuals are relatively immobile (embryos of birds &
turtles, flightless young) and aggregated (adult and prefledgling
colony-nesting birds, nesting turtles).
of environmental disease is a continuum from the onset of exposure to
the stressor through precursor or compensatory states (impairments)
that precede the clinical onset of sicknesses, or dysfunctions that
culminate in irreversible effects or death.