Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are together the largest freshwater system on Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life. 

Spring has a lot of faces around the country, like the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., and the sap run in Vermont. On one Michigan island, it's horses that are the harbinger of the season.

Mackinac Island draws a million visitors a year for its scenery, fudge and horses. Cars aren't allowed on the island, and every spring, hundreds of horses are ferried from their winter hiatus in the Upper Peninsula for a good grooming and harness fitting, before beginning their summer jobs pulling carriages.

The two reasons: 1) the process of moving water that far, and that high, wouldn't make economic sense; 2) Great Lakes water is locked down politically.

The ongoing drought in California has hit its fourth year. 

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City

Lake Michigan is dotted with shipwrecks, and many of them lay in a stretch of water off the coast of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore called the Manitou Passage. The U.S. Coast Guard recently released photographs showing what some of these shipwrecks look like from a helicopter.

Shipwreck hunter and author Ross Richardson says some of the wrecks photographed may have been previously undiscovered.


The water is exceptionally clear in Lake Michigan right now, and a Coast Guard helicopter crew used a recent routine patrol to capture striking images of some of the area's many notable sunken ships. Some of them date from the 1800s.

Photos from the flight out of the Coast Guard's Traverse City, Mich., air station show a variety of ships resting on the lake bottom, including the James McBride, a 121-foot brig that sank in 1857.

U.S. Geological Survey / http://www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/146-00/

Mercury levels are staying the same or increasing in the Great Lakes.

The state has just released new guidelines for safely eating Great Lakes fish. Despite the bad news about mercury, there is some good news in the report. There is evidence contamination is decreasing overall in Lake Michigan. It’s now safer to eater larger fish caught in the lake.

That’s largely because fish are less contaminated with PCBs and dioxin, two chemicals no longer in use. 

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