Five linked freshwater lakes make up the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the Laurentian Great Lakes, which connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River.
They cover an area of more than 92k miles and are situated in the northern Mideast of the United States.
The region was settled by native tribes before the French came in 1615.
But ever since news of these incredible reservoirs of water reached Europe, there have also been rumors of their peril.
So, do the Great Lakes harbor sharks?
The vast majority of sharks are physiologically unable to live in these waters, according to theory.
Sharks and other marine creatures that require saltwater cannot survive in freshwater.
Even if they could endure the many types of water, there are far too many obstacles, such as locks, dams, and even Niagara Falls, to prevent them from actually entering the lakes.
The bull shark is the only species of shark that, if it could overcome a number of obstacles, would have any chance at all of living in these lakes, according to A-Z Animals.
Are There Bull Sharks In The Great Lakes?
Similar to the Loch Ness monster, Great Lakes shark rumors have been going around lake communities for years and have finally made it internet forums.
Similar to whale sightings, a lot of shark sightings in the Great Lakes are fakes brought on by the unfavorable press sharks endure.
Suspense films are fascinating because they capture the way humans are drawn to thrilling tales of the enigmatic unknown. Naturally, reports of sharks infiltrating our inland waterways will grab people’s attention.
One of the titles that attracted my attention was “Monster Quest: Jaws of Illinois” when the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week Special featured a Megalodon special earlier this month. The presentation did not focus on Chicago, but rather the Mississippi River in Illinois, where the stunning Shedd Aquarium can be found.
It describes the encounter of oceanic sharks in Illinois’s Mississippi River. Despite being far from Lake Michigan, Southern Illinois is connected to it. The lengthy route to the Gulf of Mexico is located near the summit of Downstate Illinois.
Imagine if a shark with a case of wanderlust makes it north of St. Louis and over the Illinois River before continuing on.
Although the idea of sharks swimming in rivers and lakes seems like something from a low-budget horror film you could see on the SyFy channel, it actually happens very frequently.
Sharks cannot thrive in the Great Lakes for a variety of reasons, including the chilly temperatures and the fact that they require saltwater to exist.
However, the Great Lakes are now home to just one species of shark. The all-powerful Bull Shark is this lone, exceptional, but noteworthy exception.
One of the few shark species with biologically variable skills, the bull shark has some talents that are more advanced than others. Bull sharks may be found in freshwater all over the world, from the Great Lakes of Mississippi and Illinois to the Amazon, which is thousands of kilometers distant.
Bull Shark in The Great Lakes
Although it is feasible for the bull shark to live here, it would be extremely difficult to establish any kind of living due to the harsh winter climate and severe shortage of food.
Therefore, the stay would be brief even if the shark were to get in.
During the warmer seasons of the year, the Great Lakes have food that is normally considerably smaller than what the bull shark is used to.
Bull sightings have been reported in Lake Michigan despite the difficulties.
However, the allegations have been supported by evidence.
Why Most Sharks Can’t Live in Freshwater
Unlike other marine fish that travel through bodies of water from tropical, arctic, and temperate climates, sharks do not show territorial inclinations.
Sharks are an exception to the rule since they require saline or brackish water to exist, whereas the majority of aquatic species are at home in freshwater habitats. Sharks can’t exist in other bodies of water that aren’t salty or brackish because freshwater can cause their cells to burst, make them bloat, and even kill them.
According to a research by eminent scientist Adrian C. Gleiss, there may be a deterrent factor connected to the metabolic physiology of sharks that might explain the resistance of this group of elasmobranch fishes to adapt to freshwater environments.
Adrian C. Gleiss et al. hypothesized using hydro-mechanical modeling that the physical characteristics of freshwater environments stimulate a negative value that is translated into the amount of buoyancy available.
When in their natural home, sharks rely on their lipid-rich liver to readily boost buoyancy; this help is often seamless due to the physical characteristics of the saline or brackish water.
The liver, however, cannot significantly help with buoyancy when swimming in freshwater settings since the water’s physical characteristics already set the buoyancy at a higher negative value. This is only a result of freshwater bodies’ lower relative densities to those of saltwater.
Fortunately, as has recently been found, only the bull shark can survive minimally in freshwater among other shark species.
Sharks Do Not Like Cold Waters
The majority of sharks like warm water and generally steer clear of drastic temperature swings. The only type of shark that can live in colder waters is the bull shark, and they occasionally wind up in lakes near the end of summer when the water is warmer.
If one swam into a lake from the ocean, it could be able to survive for a while if it could withstand the winter weather and the scarcity of food.
Even for the Bull Sharks, the Great Lakes’ wintertime water temperatures, which may fall to around freezing, are too chilly.
There Is A Lack Of Food In Lakes
Sharks have a lot of drawbacks in freshwater environments like Lake Michigan. They don’t have access to as much food, and the sharks are forced out of their natural habitat. The Great Lakes’ fish are smaller than the ocean’s shark prey.
They won’t find a mate if they lack typical prey. Having to deal with the pressure of being in freshwater would also be a problem. Bull sharks pursue bigger prey, which is in short supply in most freshwater environments. Bull sharks often eat smaller sharks and big, bony fish.
Although bull sharks have been known to attack humans in the past, humans are not their preferred source of food. However, the presence of Asian Carp in the Mississippi and other Midwestern lakes may provide Bull Sharks with a hitherto unheard-of source of food.
How Can Bull Sharks Survive in the Great Lakes?
In the Mississippi River, bull sharks have been seen as far north as Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Nevertheless, they cannot survive in the chilly freshwater.
Bull sharks are elasmobranch fishes, and it is thought that they have a special adaption that helps them survive in freshwater environments. One of these changes is their capacity to retain salt.
Bull sharks’ physiological structures differ slightly from those of other elasmobranch fishes due to several modifications that allow them to store regenerated salt in their systems. This modification also enables them to take advantage of their capacity for salt retention when hunting for little fish in the Great Lakes.
Although bull sharks have adapted to life in freshwater, there have been no confirmed sightings of sharks in the Great Lakes. Although there have been several previous “sightings,” the most have proven out to be hoaxes or false reports.
The greatest Great Waters, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, are actually incredibly deep lakes that are too frigid for sharks to live in. Bull sharks have apparently been discovered up to 1,000 miles into the Mississippi, but the water is significantly warmer there than in the Great Lakes.
Interesting Shark Facts in The Great Lakes
There have long been reports of sharks being discovered in the lakes; some even claim to have caught a great white.
Even a recent news report of a shark in the Great Lakes was faked, as we now know, in order to advertise Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.
What additional tales may there be in the waters?
Coastal Bessie. Bessie, a supposed cousin of the lake monster of the same name in Loch Ness, was first mentioned soon before the turn of the 19th century. She is thought to have made an effort to sink vessels that are out on Lake Erie’s seas. The monster may reach a length of 50 feet and resembles a serpent with limbs.
phantom ships Since there are more than 6,000 shipwrecks on the bottom of the Great Lakes, looking into the deep end while on a boat or from above could make you feel a little uneasy.
However, they supposedly do not just remain there. There have been rumors of ancient ships drifting across the ocean for years. Even a video of what appeared to be the resuscitation of a long-sunken pirate ship was captured by someone.
Triangle forming Lake Michigan. Beware, Bermuda! There is another occurrence occurring in the Great Lakes that is comparable to South Bay Bessie. The region is fairly spread out and has been blamed for several major disruptions.
seeing UFOs, lost sailors, whole ships, large groups of people who have vanished without a trace, etc. Since 1891, these reports have been flooding in.
Sharks in Saltwater vs. Freshwater
First, I discovered that sharks are created to live in seawater by nature. They simply cannot survive if their bodies are unable to absorb salt.
The bull shark is a notable exception. This shark species can live in watery environments by recycling salts through its kidneys. Bull sharks are the only kind of shark that may possibly exist in the Great Lakes.
Temp of the water. The majority of sharks like warm seas and generally steer clear of drastic temperature swings. The only shark species that could live in freshwater would be bull sharks, and if they did, it would be in the summer when the water is warmer.
Distance. Sharks can swim from the ocean to a lake, so it’s not an insurmountable challenge. Sharks have been discovered thousands of kilometers up the Amazon River and 1,700 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, on the Mississippi River as far as Illinois.
The good news is that sharks are unlikely to traverse the eastern path from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes due to the chilly water near the entrance of the St. Lawrence River.
Is it Safe to Swim in The Great Lakes?
It seems difficult to avoid getting in the water when you’re in a place like The Great Lakes.
In general, this may be a secure location to take pleasure in the summer’s various water activities.
It’s much more alluring knowing you won’t be running across any sharks anytime soon.
While swimming with the family and knowing you won’t encounter any sharks may make you feel more at ease, there are still a lot of critters in the water that you should be aware of.
Here are a few of the lakes’ creepier aquatic creatures that have been observed or photographed:
serpenthead fish These fish are especially scary since they have snake-like bodies and teeth. These fish are slippery and prone to bites, but their worst trait may be that they can walk.
Pacu. Since these fish are linked to piranhas, you already know how frightening they are. These South American fish have teeth that resemble those of a human. They have a history of focusing on particularly delicate male genitalia and are fast to bite.
the sea lamprey This parasitic fish resembles an eel in shape and has rows of teeth. Although they have been known to attack humans on rare instances, they prefer cold-blooded creatures over people.
Which body of water is the most dangerous in the Great Lakes?
Of the five lakes, Lake Michigan stands out as the deadliest.
Fair enough, 108 people drowned in the Great Lakes in 2020.
The largest number of them, 38, was in Lake Michigan, while the smallest number, 2, was in Lake Superior.
Where can I find sharks in the US? Shark attacks in Florida are most often reported.
The state has earned the moniker “the shark attack capital of the world” due to a significant number of shark incidents.
This state, which is virtually a beach all the way around, is where half of all attacks occur each year.
Hawaii, California, and both Carolinas are some locations where you should use caution when visiting their beaches.