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Great Minds, Great Lakes


Social Studies

The Journey of the Great Lakes



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Investigating Lake Huron

Part of Lake Guardian's job is to collect samples of air to make sure it is clean enough for animals and people to breath. She had to make sure she was persistent in her work, enduring, and never giving up until she got all the necessary information. Lake Guardian thought that birds around the Great Lakes also could help her find out how clean the air is. She decided to cruise up through the Georgian Bay to the Parry Sound and ask a herring gull. Herring gulls are common around the Great Lakes. "Herring Gull, does the smoke and dirt form big factories and machines around the Great Lakes bother you? Do you think it makes the Great Lakes unhealthy?"

"Oh, my yes. After it rains, do you know why the air smells so fresh and clean? That's because the water is cleaning the air when it falls, and takes the pollution right out of the sky. It is wonderful for flying after wards, but you mush understand that the smoke and pollution falls with he rain into lakes and on the land. When the pollution falls with the rain into lakes and on the land. When the pollution falls to the bottom of a lake, small creatures eat it in the mud called sediment.

 Fish eat these small creatures in great numbers, and the fish may get very sick from the pollution inside the small creatures. I am a scavenger and I love to eat the remains of fish and food that fishermen toss overboard, and my friends the cormorants like to eat fish where they live by the shores. We end up eating the polluted fish, but there is nothing else for me to eat, and I can't tell the difference between a good fish and a poisoned fish. Some of my eggs don't hatch and my babies have been very sick because they have been affected by the pollution I eat in the fish. It makes me very sad."

Herring Gull's story helped Lake Guardian understand how animals depend on each other for food. She also learned how pollution eaten by one animal can eventually affect many other animals. Lake Guardian collected many samples of small creatures, fish, and microscopic plants and animals such as phytoplankton and zooplankton from the bottom of Lake Huron to study how much pollution these critters ate.

Lake Guardian's conversation with Herring Gull made her want to know more about how air pollution affects other animals, so she decided to head west to Cheboygan, Michigan. Just south of Cheboygan was a marshy and swampy area called a wetland, where Lake Guardian would find many of Herring Gull's friends, the Cormorants. Cormorants are very good divers and swimmers, and eat a lot of fish. The cormorants confirmed what Herring Gull had told her, and explained that their babies often don't live because of pollution. The cormorants said that many other animals get sick from the pollution too. Lake Guardian learned that wetlands are too soggy for people to live in, but they are just right for many animals. Wetlands provide homes for many endangered species, but pollution was affecting these animals too. Although the stories made Lake Guardian very sad, she was glad to take samples of water, plants, and sediment to learn about how pollution from the air affects them. The information she collected would help people find ways to protect and restore the wetlands, and all the other creatures living in the Great Lakes Basin. As she cruised along, she couldn't help thinking about how beautiful Lake Huron was, and she could understand why the first English name the Great Lakes were given was "Sweetwater Seas." Before leaving Lake Huron for Lake Michigan, Lake Guardian made sure she picked up a good supply of navy beans for making delicious soup throughout the voyage. Did you know that the Lake Huron area produces more dry beans than anywhere in the United States?


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