The Great Lakes Bully Fish

Field Facts:

Fact #1 - The Great Lakes are a series of connected freshwater lakes located in Northeastern North America, on the Canada-United States border. The water from this fresh water ecosystem drains into the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Fact #2 - Retreating glaciers formed the Great Lakes over 10,000 years ago. Sheets of ice, mixed with rock and other debris, carved deep basins in the earth that were eventually filled with water from melting ice.

Fact #3 - There are five lakes in the Great Lakes region: Lake Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Can you guess which one is the largest? Hint… it's super large and super deep.


View from space. Photo Credit: US Government 

Fact #4 - The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh surface water on Earth, containing 21% of the world's supply and 84% of the North American supply. Only the polar ice caps contain more fresh water.

Fact #5 - The Great Lakes basin is home to 25 million Americans and 8.5 million people in Canada. Unfortunately, some Litterbugs have moved into the area and trouble is brewing beneath the surface.

Fact #6 - The shoreline has over 1,200 public beaches that are enjoyed by millions of people each year.

Photo Credit: Richard Whitman, U.S Geological Survey

Fact #7 - This water-filled super highway has been used to travel inland for a variety of reasons including trade, migration and the transportation of goods and raw materials.

Fact #8 - As ships travel around the Great Lakes, they empty water from inside their hulls into the fresh water of the lakes. Many times, that ballast water contains marine species from other parts of the world. Sometimes, these "foreign passengers" are stronger than the native species that live there. When the intruders start to breed and multiply, they upset the balance of the food web and the native species start to die. These intruders are called invasive species.

Fact #9 - Asian carp are considered an invasive species for another reason. These large fish were imported to the Southeastern United States to control algae in ponds in the 1970's. The carp are big eaters and feed on plankton, which is also the food source for native species. In fact, they can eat between 20-40% of their body weight in a day. Let's just say that's a lot of plankton! They can grow to be 60 inches (152 cm) long and weigh over 100 pounds (45.35 kg). Asian carp also reproduce very quickly and can lay up to 1 million fish eggs at a time.

Fact #10 - The Asian carp have escaped the ponds and have spread throughout the Mississippi River basin. They are now moving northward in the Mississippi River and are threatening to enter the Great Lakes through the Chicago Waterway System. Environmentalists are trying to find ways to stop the Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes and have built electric fences in rivers and canals that shock the fish if they get too close. Up until now, these efforts have been successful and none of the "bully fish" have gotten through!

An Asian carp leaps out of the boat wake on the
Illinois Waterway. Photo Credit: Chris Young, State
Journal Register

Warning Beans! These marine monsters can jump 10 feet out of the water, and are easily upset by passing watercraft. We need to round up these rowdy rascals before somebody gets hurt!

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