The Great Lakes are the largest body of freshwater in the world! They contain 20% of the freshwater on our planet, providing drinking water for 35 million people. The lakes are the boundary between the United States and Canada, except Lake Michigan that is entirely in the United States. Both countries control the Great Lakes. The lakes, together with canals and rivers, form a waterway system that links through the St. Lawrence River from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The lakes formed when glaciers moved across the area thousands of years ago. These sheets of ice carved hills and valleys. As the glaciers melted, the water filled the valleys and formed the lakes. A trick to remember the names of the lakes is using the first letter of each to spell HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior). Lake Superior is the largest and deepest. Lake Erie is the smallest and shallowest and can freeze in the winter.
• There are 35,000 islands scattered throughout the Great Lakes.
• Even though it is the smallest, Lake Erie has the most fish living in it.
• Pollution has been a concern for almost 200 years. Factory waste, sewage, and fertilizers from nearby farms pollute the water and kill fish.
• Zebra mussels and other invasive species, which are living things that are in an environment where they do not belong, are also a problem. To find out more about these lakes, check out these books from our library: