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In honour of Great Lakes Awareness Day, here are 10 Great Lakes facts

Monday, May 3rd 2021, 3:39 pm - Learn more about the lakes that provide us with freshwater and fuel our economy.

May 3 is Great Lakes Awareness Day and in honour of it, we'd like you to get to know why Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario are North American icons worthy of a day of praise.

1) The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world. That's right: Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario cover a total surface area of roughly 245,013 square km connected by lakes and rivers. That's one huge system.

Great Lakes from space As seen from space. Courtesy: NASA.

2) There is a lot of water on Earth (scientists estimate our planet contains a total of 100,036 cubic kilometres of it). About 22,508 cubic kilometres of that resides in the Great Lakes, making this basin home to more than 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater.

3) And while we're talking about freshwater, here's another neat fact: The Great Lakes make up one of our planet’s largest surface freshwater ecosystems, providing 84 per cent of North America's surface freshwater.

4) One more thing about the Great Lakes basin: It's home to more than 30 million people, including more than 30 per cent of the Canadian population.

5) Experts believe there are more than 6,000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, responsible for the deaths of more than 30,000 mariners.


6) Even today, the lakes are an important transit route, helping to move around $19.8 billion worth of goods annually. They also support 237,868 jobs and $45.4 billion in economic activity.

7) An occasional increase in the concentration of calcium carbonate can sometimes make Lake Ontario’s water appear white.

8) Lake Michigan is the only Great Lake located entirely in the U.S.

Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario. Photo submitted to The Weather Network by Dan Gibbons.

9) Want to take a trip around the Great Lakes? Pack snacks and dress comfortably, because it's going to take a while. In 1988, The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) set up the Circle Tour, which scoots around all five lakes and through the eight U.S. states and Ontario that make up the official GLC. Lake Michigan's 1,448 tour alone takes about 14.5 hours without stopping.

A storm on Lake Superior north of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. Submitted to The Weather Network by Dan Grisdale.

10) The Great Lakes are peppered with more than 35,000 islands, with the largest being Lake Huron's Manitoulin Island. At 2,766 square kilometres. Most islands found within the Great Lakes are small and uninhabitable.

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