Lake Erie
Overview
 
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

 of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the Canadian province
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, on the south by the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, and on the west by the state of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

. The lake is named after the Erie tribe of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who lived along its southern shore.
Encyclopedia
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

 (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume
Volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

 of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the Canadian province
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, on the south by the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, and on the west by the state of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

. The lake is named after the Erie tribe of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who lived along its southern shore. The outflow from the lake provides hydroelectric power to Canada and the U.S. as it spins huge turbines at Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has...

.

Canadian writer Chad Fraser in his book Lake Erie Stories, refers to the region as a "sun-drenched, nearly tropical retreat". The novelist and poet Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood
Margaret Eleanor Atwood, is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, and environmental activist. She is among the most-honoured authors of fiction in recent history; she is a winner of the Arthur C...

 described Lake Erie with these words:

Geographic features

Lake Erie (42.2° N, 81.2° W) has a mean elevation of 571 feet (174 m) above sea level. It has a surface area of 9,940 square miles (25,745 km²) with a length of 241 miles (388 km) and breadth of 57 miles (92 km) at its widest points.

It is the shallowest of the Great Lakes with an average depth of 62 feet (19 m) and a maximum depth of 210 feet (64 m). For comparison, Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

 has an average depth of 483 feet (147 m), a volume of 2,900 cubic miles (12,100 km³) and shoreline of 2,726 miles (4,385 km). Because it is the shallowest, it is also the warmest of the Great Lakes, and in 1999 this almost became a problem for two nuclear power plant
Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is one or more nuclear reactors. As in a conventional thermal power station the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to a generator which produces electricity.Nuclear power plants are usually...

s which require cool lake water to keep their reactors cool. The warm summer of 1999 caused lake temperatures to come close to the 85-degree-Fahrenheit (29°C) limit necessary to keep the plants cool. The shallowest section of Lake Erie is the western basin where depths average only 25 to 30 ft (7.6 to 9.1 m); as a result, "the slightest breeze can kick up lively waves," according to a New York Times reporter in 2004. The "waves build very quickly", according to other accounts. Sometimes fierce waves springing up unexpectedly have led to dramatic rescues; in one instance, a Cleveland resident trying to measure the dock near his house became trapped but was rescued by a fire department diver from Avon Lake, Ohio
Avon Lake, Ohio
Avon Lake is a city in Lorain County, Ohio, United States. The population was 18,145 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Avon Lake is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

:
This area is also known as the "thunderstorm capital of Canada" with "breathtaking" lightning displays. Lake Erie is primarily fed by the Detroit River
Detroit River
The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

 (from Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

 and Lake St. Clair
Lake Saint Clair (North America)
Lake St. Clair is a fresh-water lake named after Clare of Assisi that lies between the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan, and its midline also forms the boundary between Canada and the United States of America. Lake St. Clair includes the Anchor Bay along the Metro Detroit coastline...

) and drains via the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

 and Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
The Niagara Falls, located on the Niagara River draining Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is the collective name for the Horseshoe Falls and the adjacent American Falls along with the comparatively small Bridal Veil Falls, which combined form the highest flow rate of any waterfalls in the world and has...

 into Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

. Navigation downstream is provided by the Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

, part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway
Saint Lawrence Seaway
The Saint Lawrence Seaway , , is the common name for a system of locks, canals and channels that permits ocean-going vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the North American Great Lakes, as far as Lake Superior. Legally it extends from Montreal to Lake Erie, including the Welland Canal...

. Other major contributors to Lake Erie include the Grand River
Grand River (Ontario)
The Grand River is a large river in southwestern Ontario, Canada. From its source, it flows south through Grand Valley, Fergus, Elora, Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, Paris, Brantford, Caledonia, and Cayuga before emptying into the north shore of Lake Erie south of Dunnville at Port Maitland...

, the Huron River
Huron River (Michigan)
The Huron River is a river in southeastern Michigan, rising out of the Huron Swamp in Indian Springs Metropark in northern Oakland County and flowing into Lake Erie on the boundary between Wayne County and Monroe County...

, the Maumee River
Maumee River
The Maumee River is a river in northwestern Ohio and northeastern Indiana in the United States. It is formed at Fort Wayne, Indiana by the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers, and meanders northeastwardly for through an agricultural region of glacial moraines before flowing into the...

, the Sandusky River
Sandusky River
The Sandusky River is a tributary to Lake Erie in north-central Ohio in the United States. It is about long and flows into Lake Erie at Sandusky Bay.-Course:...

, the Buffalo River
Buffalo River (New York)
The Buffalo River is a river that empties into the eastern end of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, by the City of Buffalo in the United States of America. This stream is called the Buffalo River only in the vicinity of the city and is known as Buffalo Creek as it flows through other parts of...

, and the Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River
The Cuyahoga River is located in Northeast Ohio in the United States. Outside of Ohio, the river is most famous for being "the river that caught fire", helping to spur the environmental movement in the late 1960s...

.

Point Pelee National Park
Point Pelee National Park
-See also:*National Parks of Canada*List of National Parks of Canada*Long Point-External links:**...

, the southernmost point of the Canadian mainland, is located on a peninsula extending into the lake. Several islands are found in the western end of the lake; these belong to Ohio except for Pelee Island and eight neighboring islands, which are part of Ontario. Major cities along the lake include Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

; Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

; Toledo, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

; Port Stanley, Ontario
Port Stanley, Ontario
Port Stanley is a community in the Municipality of Central Elgin, Ontario, Elgin County, located on the north shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of Kettle Creek.-History:...

; Monroe, Michigan
Monroe, Michigan
Monroe is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 20,733 at the 2010 census. It is the largest city and county seat of Monroe County. The city is bordered on the south by Monroe Charter Township, but both are politically independent. The city is located approximately 14 miles ...

; Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. It is located in northern Ohio and is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, almost exactly half-way between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east....

; and Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

. The drainage basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 covers 30,140 square miles (78,000 km2).

The lake is also an international boundary between the United States and Canada. The close proximity of both countries as well as the lake's flatness has caused occasional confusion with cell phone billing, since a call may be believed to have been made internationally, depending on the strength of the signal, and billed accordingly.

Islands

Islands tend to be located in the western side of the lake and total thirty-one in number (13 in Canada, 18 in the U.S.). The island-village of Put-in-Bay
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
Put-in-Bay is a village located on South Bass Island in Put-in-Bay Township, Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. Many believe that the name originates from some early maps of South Bass Island that showed the harbor being named Pudding Bay, probably because it was shaped like a pudding sack. The...

 on South Bass Island
South Bass Island
South Bass Island is a small island in western Lake Erie, and a part of Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. It is the southernmost of the three Bass Islands and located 12 miles from the south shore of Lake Erie. It is the third largest island in the Lake Erie Islands. The island is a popular...

 attracts young crowds who sometimes wear "red bucket hats" and are prone to "break off cartwheels in the park" and general merriment. Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island, Ohio
Kelleys Island is both a village in Erie County, Ohio, United States, and the island which it fully occupies in Lake Erie. Originally known as Island Number 6 and later Cunningham Island, it was renamed in 1840 for brothers Datus and Irad Kelley, who were largely responsible for cultivatating the...

 was depicted by the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

as having charms that were "more subtle" than Put-in-Bay, and offers amenities such as beach lounging, hiking, biking, and "marveling at deep glacial grooves left in limestone." Pelee Island
Pelee, Ontario
Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada , is an island in the western half of Lake Erie. Pelee Island is connected to the Canadian and United States mainland by ferry service. At 42 km2, Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and the southernmost populated point in Canada...

 is the largest of Erie's islands, accessible by ferry from Leamington, Ontario
Leamington, Ontario
Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, southern Ontario, Canada, and has a population of 31,113. It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the...

 and Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. It is located in northern Ohio and is situated on the shores of Lake Erie, almost exactly half-way between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east....

. The island has a "fragile and unique ecosystem" with plants rarely found in Canada, such as wild hyacinth, yellow horse gentian (Triosteum angustifolium
Triosteum angustifolium
Triosteum angustifolium, commonly known as yellow horse gentian , is a species of flowering plant of the Caprifoliaceae family. It is found Eastern North America, primarily in Limestone regions....

), and prickly pear cactus, as well as two endangered snakes, the blue racer and the Lake Erie water snake. Songbirds migrate to Pelee in spring, and monarch butterflies stop over during the fall.

Water levels

Lake Erie has a lake retention time
Lake retention time
Lake retention time is a calculated quantity expressing the mean time that water spends in a particular lake. At its simplest this figure is the result of dividing the lake volume by the flow in or out of the lake...

 of 2.6 years, the shortest of all the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

. This means that the lake water is renewed from upstream sources every three years. The lake's area is 470000 acres (190,202.4 ha) of surface water. Lake Erie's water level fluctuates with the seasons as in the other Great Lakes. Generally, the lowest levels are in January and February, and the highest in June or July, although there have been exceptions. The average yearly level varies depending on long-term precipitation. Short-term level changes are often caused by seiche
Seiche
A seiche is a standing wave in an enclosed or partially enclosed body of water. Seiches and seiche-related phenomena have been observed on lakes, reservoirs, swimming pools, bays, harbors and seas...

s that are particularly high when southwesterly winds blow across the length of the lake during storms. These cause water to pile up at the eastern end of the lake. Storm driven seiches can cause damage onshore. During one storm in November 2003, the water level at Buffalo rose by 7 feet (2.1 m) with waves of 10–15 feet (3–4.5 m) for a rise of 22 feet (6.7 m). Meanwhile, at the western end of the lake, Toledo
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

 experienced a similar drop in water level. Lake water is used for drinking purposes.
  • Historic High Water. The lake fluctuates from month to month with the highest lake levels in October and November. The normal highwater mark is 2 foot (0.6096 m) above datum (569.2 ft or 173.5 m). In the summer of 1986, Lake Erie reached its highest level at 5.08 feet (1.5 m) above datum. The high water records were set from 1986 (April) through January 1987. Levels ranged from 4.33 to 5.08 ft (1.3 to 1.5 m) above Chart Datum.

  • Historic Low Water. Lake Erie experiences its lowest levels in the winter. The normal low-water mark is 1.5 foot (0.4572 m) below datum (569.2 ft or 173.5 m). In the winter of 1934, Lake Erie reached its lowest level at 1.5 foot (0.4572 m) below datum. Monthly low water records were set from July 1934 through June 1935. During this twelve month period water levels ranged from 1.5 foot (0.4572 m) to the Chart Datum.

Geology

Lake Erie in its current form is less than 4,000 years old, a short amount of time geologically speaking. Before this, the land on which the lake now sits has gone through several complex stages. A large lowland basin formed over two million years ago as a result of an eastern flowing river that existed well before the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 ice age
Ice age
An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

s. This ancient drainage system was destroyed by the first major glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

 in the area, while at the same time deepening and enlarging the lowland allowing water to settle and form a lake. The glaciers were able to carve away more land on the eastern side of the lowland because the bedrock is made of shale which is much softer than the carbonate rocks on the western side. Thus, the eastern side of the modern lake is much deeper than the western portion which averages only 25 feet (7.6 m) deep. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes because the ice was so thin and lacked erosion power when it reached that far south.

As many as three glaciers advanced and retreated over the land causing temporary lakes to form in the time periods in between each of them. Because each lake had a different volume of water their shorelines rested at differing elevations. The last of these lakes to form, Lake Warren, existed between about 13,000 and 12,000 years ago. It was deeper than the current Lake Erie, so its shoreline existed about eight miles (13 km) inland from the modern one. The shorelines of these lakes left behind high ground sand ridges that cut through swamps and were used as trails for Indians and later, pioneers. These trails became primitive roads which were eventually paved. U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30
U.S. Route 30 is an east–west main route of the system of United States Numbered Highways, with the highway traveling across the northern tier of the country. It is the third longest U.S. route, after U.S. Route 20 and U.S. Route 6. The western end of the highway is at Astoria, Oregon; the...

 west of Delphos and U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20
U.S. Route 20 is an east–west United States highway. As the "0" in its route number implies, US 20 is a coast-to-coast route. Spanning , it is the longest road in the United States, and the route sparsely parallels Interstate 90...

 west of Norwalk and east of Cleveland were formed in this manner. One can still see some of these ancient sand dunes that formed in the Oak Openings Region
Oak Openings Region
The Oak Openings Region is a globally rare ecosystem composed of over in Northwest Ohio. The land consists largely of oak savanna and grassland prairie...

 in Northwestern Ohio. There, the sandy dry lake bed soil was not enough to support large trees with the exception of a few species of oaks, forming a rare oak savanna
Oak savanna
An oak savanna is a type of savanna, or lightly forested grassland, where oaks are the dominant tree species. These savannas were maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning, grazing, low precipitation, poor soil, and/or fires set by Native Americans...

.

Native Americans

At the time of European contact, there were several groups of Iroquoian cultures living around the shores of the eastern end of the lake. The Erie tribe (from whom the lake takes its name) lived along the southern edge, while the Neutrals (also known as Attawandaron) lived along the northern shore. Near Port Stanley, there is an Indian village dating from the 16th century known as the Southwold Earthworks where as many as 800 Neutral Indians once lived; the archaeological remains include double earth walls winding around the grass–covered perimeter. Europeans named the tribe the Neutral Indians since these people refused to fight with other tribes. Both tribes were conquered and assimilated by their hostile eastern neighbors, the Iroquois Confederacy
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 between A.D.
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

 1651 and 1657, in what is referred to as part of the Beaver Wars
Beaver Wars
The Beaver Wars, also sometimes called the Iroquois Wars or the French and Iroquois Wars, commonly refers to a series of conflicts fought in the mid-17th century in eastern North America...

.

For decades after those wars, the land around eastern Lake Erie was claimed and utilized by the Iroquois as a hunting ground. As the power of the Iroquois waned during the last quarter of the 17th century, several other, mainly Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe
Anishinaabe or Anishinabe—or more properly Anishinaabeg or Anishinabek, which is the plural form of the word—is the autonym often used by the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonquin peoples. They all speak closely related Anishinaabemowin/Anishinaabe languages, of the Algonquian language family.The meaning...

 Native American tribes, displaced them from the territories they claimed on the north shore of the lake. There was a legend of an Indian woman named Huldah who, despairing over her lost British lover, hurled herself from a high rock from Pelee Island.

European exploration and settlement

In 1669, the Frenchman Louis Jolliet
Louis Jolliet
Louis Jolliet , also known as Louis Joliet, was a French Canadian explorer known for his discoveries in North America...

 was the first documented European to sight Lake Erie, although there is speculation that Étienne Brûlé
Étienne Brûlé
Étienne Brûlé , was the first of European French explorers to journey along the St. Lawrence River with the Native Americans and to view Georgian Bay and Lake Huron Canada in the 17th century. A rugged outdoorsman, he took to the lifestyle of the First Nations and had a unique contribution to the...

 may have come across it in 1615. Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be explored by Europeans, since the Iroquois who occupied the Niagara River
Niagara River
The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It forms part of the border between the Province of Ontario in Canada and New York State in the United States. There are differing theories as to the origin of the name of the river...

 area were in conflict with the French, and they did not allow explorers or traders to pass through. Explorers followed rivers out of Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 and portaged directly into Lake Huron
Lake Huron
Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. Hydrologically, it comprises the larger portion of Lake Michigan-Huron. It is bounded on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States...

. British authorities in Canada were nervous about possible expansion by American settlers across Lake Erie, so Colonel Talbot developed the Talbot Trail in 1809 as a way to stimulate settlement to the area; Talbot recruited settlers from Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and there are numerous places named after him, such as Port Talbot
Port Talbot, Ontario
Port Talbot was the name of a community located west of Port Stanley in Ontario, Canada where Talbot Creek flows into Lake Erie. The village was the original commercial nucleus for the settlement which developed on 5,000 acres of land granted to Thomas Talbot in 1800 by the Crown along the...

 and the Talbot River
Talbot River (Ontario)
The Talbot River is a south-central Ontario]] which flows from the Kawartha lakes to Lake Simcoe. The lower section of the river is now part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, although a new more direct channel was cut at the end of the 19th century, bypassing the original mouth of the river.Even before...

 and Talbotville in southern Ontario.

During the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, Oliver Hazard Perry
Oliver Hazard Perry
United States Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island , the son of USN Captain Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace Alexander, a direct descendant of William Wallace...

 captured an entire British fleet
Battle of Lake Erie
The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of Great Britain's Royal Navy...

 in 1813 near Put-in-Bay, Ohio, despite having inferior numbers. American soldiers swept through the Ontario area around Port Rowan burning towns and villages, but spared a gristmill owned by a Canadian mason named John Backhouse, according to one report. Generally, however, despite the two exceptions being the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 which involved conflicts between the U.S. and Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, relations between the U.S. and Canada have been remarkably friendly with an "unfortified boundary" and an agreement "that has kept all fleets of war off the Great Lakes."

In 1837, rebellions broke about between Canadian settlers and the British Colonial government
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, primarily over political reforms and land allocation issues. Some of the rebels stationed themselves in the U.S. and crossed the ice from Sandusky Bay to Pelee Island wearing "tattered overcoats and worn-out boots", and carrying muskets, pitchforks, and swords, but the islanders had already fled. Later, there was a battle on the ice with the Royal 32nd regiment, with the rebels being driven to retreat.

Settlers established commercial fisheries on the north coast of the lake around the 1850s. An important business was fishing. In the pre-Civil War years, railways sprouted everywhere, and around 1852 there were railways circling the lake. Maritime traffic picked up, although the lake was usually closed because of ice from December to early April, and ships had to wait for the ice to clear before proceeding. Since slavery had been abolished in Canada in 1833, but was still legal in southern states of the U.S., a Lake Erie crossing was sometimes required for fugitive slaves seeking freedom:
Merchant shippers lacked modern radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 and weather forecasting, so vessels were often caught up in intense gales:
There were reports of disasters usually from sea captains passing information to reporters; in 1868, the captain of the Grace Whitney saw a sunken vessel "three men clinging to the masthead" but he could not help because of the gale and high seas.

A balloonist named John Steiner of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

 made an ambitious trip across the lake in 1857. He was described in the New York Times as an eronaut or aeronaut; powered boats were called propellers; and fast was deemed railroad speed. Here's an account of the day-long voyage over the lake:
In 1885, lake winds were so strong that water levels dropped substantially, sometimes by as much as two feet, so that at ports such as Toledo, watercraft could not load coal or depart the port.

During the history of the lake as a fishery, there has been marked battling by opposing interest groups. Here's an 1895 newspaper account in which critics of commercial fishing issued dire predictions and calling for government action to solve the problem:
Predictions of the lake being over-fished in 1895 were premature, since the fishery has survived commercial and sport fishing, pollution in the middle of the 20th century, invasive species and other ailments, but state and provincial governments, as well as national governments, have played a greater role as time went by. Business boomed; in 1901, the Carnegie Company proposed building a new harbor near Erie
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

 in Elk Creek to accommodate shipments from its tube-plant site nearby. In 1913, a memorial to Commodore Perry was built on Put-in-Bay island featuring a Doric column.

During the Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 years from 1919 to 1933, a "great deal of alcohol crossed Erie" along with "mobster corpses" dumped into the Detroit River
Detroit River
The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

 which sometimes washed up on the beaches of Pelee Island. According to one account, Al Capone
Al Capone
Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate. The Chicago Outfit, which subsequently became known as the "Capones", was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging liquor, and other illegal activities such as prostitution, in Chicago from the early...

 hid a "fortune" in the walls of the Middle Island luxury club, but no money was found in it until 2007 when the building no longer stood. The club had a basement casino with poker tables and slot machines.

During the 20th century, commercial fishing was prevalent, but so was the boom in manufacturing industry around the lake, and often rivers and streams were used as sewers to flush untreated sewage which ended up in the lake. Sometimes poorly constructed sanitary systems meant that when old mains broke, raw sewage would spill directly into the Cuyahoga and into the lake. A report in Time Magazine in 1969 described the lake as a "gigantic cesspool" since only 3 of 62 beaches were rated "completely safe for swimming".

By 1975 the popular commercial fish blue pike had been declared extinct, although the declaration may have been premature. By the 1980s, there were about 130 fishing vessels with about 3,000 workers, but commercial fishing was declining rapidly, particularly from the American side.

Great Lakes Compact

In 2005, the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 States of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 and the Canadian Province of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 endorsed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Compact (Compact). The Compact was signed into law by President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in September 2008. An international water rights policy overseen by the Great Lakes Commission, the Compact aims to prevent diversion of water from Great Lakes to distant states, as well as to set standards for use and conservation. It has support from both political parties, including United States Senator George Voinovich
George Voinovich
George Victor Voinovich is a former United States Senator from the state of Ohio, and a member of the Republican Party. Previously, he served as the 65th Governor of Ohio from 1991 to 1998, and as the 54th mayor of Cleveland from 1980 to 1989.-Personal life:Born in Cleveland, Ohio, his father was...

 (R-OH) and Governor Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Granholm
Jennifer Mulhern Granholm is a Canadian-born American politician, educator, and author who served as Attorney General and 47th Governor of the U.S. state of Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, Granholm became Michigan's first female governor on January 1, 2003, when she succeeded Governor...

 (D-MI), but is not popular in the southwestern states due to frequent drought conditions and water scarcity.

Lake Erie in winter

Like the other Great Lakes, Erie produces lake effect snow
Lake effect snow
Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores...

 when the first cold winds of winter pass over the warm waters. When the difference in temperature between the relatively warm surface water and the colder air reaches a threshold value of 18 to 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-7.7 to -5°C), then "lake-effect snow becomes possible:"
What causes heavy lake-effect snow is when cold air travels 60 miles (96.6 km) or longer over a large unfrozen lake. Lake-effect snow makes Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 and Erie
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

 the eleventh and thirteenth snowiest places in the entire United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 respectively, according to data collected from the National Climatic Data Center
National Climatic Data Center
The United States National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina is the world's largest active archive of weather data. The center became established in late 1951, with the move into the new facility occurring in early 1952....

. Since winds blow primarily west–to–east along the main axis of the lake, lake effect snow effects are more pronounced on the eastern parts of the lake such as cities such as Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 and Erie
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

. Buffalo typically gets 95 inches (241.3 cm) of snow each winter, and sometimes ten feet (3 m) of snow; the snowiest city is Syracuse, New York
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

, which gets lake effect precipitation from Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 as well as Lake Erie. A storm around Christmas in 2001 pounded Buffalo with seven feet of snow.
The lake effect ends or its effect is reduced, however, when the lake freezes over. In January 2011, for example, residents of Cleveland were glad when Lake Erie was "90 percent frozen" since it meant that the area had "made it over the hump" in terms of enduring repeated snowfalls which required much shoveling. Being the shallowest of the Great Lakes, it is the most likely to freeze and frequently does. On February 16, 2010, meteorologists reported that the lake had frozen over marking the first time the lake had completely frozen over since the winter of 1995–1996. In contrast, Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

 has never completely frozen over since the warmer and deeper portion is in the south, although it came close to being totally frozen during three harsh winters over the past century. When the lake freezes over, this usually shuts down the lake effect snowfall. In past years, lake ice was so thick that it was possible to drive over it or go sailing on iceboats; but in the first decade of the 21st century, the ice has not been thick enough for such activities. Many lake residents take advantage of the ice and travel; some drive to Canada and back. Here's one account of ice life around Put-in-Bay:

Windy conditions

Strong winds have caused lake currents to shift sediment on the bottom, leading to "wickedly shifting sandbars" which have been a source of shipwrecks. But winds can have a peaceful purpose as well; there have been proposals to place electricity–producing wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s in windy and shallow points in the lake and along the coast, both in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. In 2010, there were plans for GE to develop five wind turbines to generate 20 megawatts of power by 2012 with plans to generate 1,000 megawatts by 2020; one proposal called for "gearless turbines" with 176-long blades helped along with magnets. A nonprofit development group near Cleveland was developing plans to construct hundreds of turbines in the lake. A plan by Samsung to build an offshore wind farm
Wind farm
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electric power. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other...

 on the north shore of the lake, from Port Maitland
Port Maitland, Ontario
thumb|Grand River, OntarioPort Maitland is a small community in the province of Ontario Canada.It is on the North shore of Lake Erie, at the mouth of the Grand River.At one time a canal connected the Welland Canal to the Grand River....

 to Nanticoke
Nanticoke, Ontario
Nanticoke is an unincorporated community and former city located on the western border of Haldimand County, Ontario, Canada. It is southeast of Simcoe in neighbouring Norfolk County and south of Brantford...

 for a distance of 15.5 miles (25 km), but the plan has been met with opposition from residents for a number of reasons. Canadians near Leamington
Leamington, Ontario
Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, southern Ontario, Canada, and has a population of 31,113. It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the...

 and Kingsville
Kingsville, Ontario
The Town of Kingsville is located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and is Canada's southernmost municipality with town status. According to the 2006 census, the population of Kingsville is 20,908.-Geography:...

 have organized protest groups to thwart attempts to bring wind turbines to the lake; reasons against the turbines include spoiling lake views as well as the NIMBY
NIMBY
NIMBY or Nimby is an acronym for the phrase "not in my back yard". The term is used pejoratively to describe opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development close to them. Opposing residents themselves are sometimes called Nimbies...

 phenomenon, as well as possible adverse affects regarding drinking water and commercial fishing. Plans to install turbines in Pigeon Bay, south of Leamington
Leamington, Ontario
Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, southern Ontario, Canada, and has a population of 31,113. It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the...

 were met with opposition as well. The notion that bird and bat migration may be hurt by the wind turbines has been used to argue against the wind turbines: a reporter in The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail is a nationally distributed Canadian newspaper, based in Toronto and printed in six cities across the country. With a weekly readership of approximately 1 million, it is Canada's largest-circulation national newspaper and second-largest daily newspaper after the Toronto Star...

wrote "Given the tendency of turbines to make mincemeat of things airborne, it doesn’t require great imagination to figure out what would happen." There were descriptions of wind turbines built in a farm near the lake shore:

Microclimates

The lake is also responsible for microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s that are important to agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. Along its north shore is one of the richest areas of Canada's fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 and vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

 production; this southernmost tip, particularly in the area around Leamington, is known as Canada's "tomato capital". The area around Port Rowan in Ontario has special trees which grow because of the "tempering effect of the lake", and species include tulip trees, flowering dogwood, sassafras and sour gum. In this area there are many greenhouses which produce a "variety of tropical plants rarely cultivated so far north", including some species of cacti
Cactus
A cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae. Their distinctive appearance is a result of adaptations to conserve water in dry and/or hot environments. In most species, the stem has evolved to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have evolved into spines...

, because of the lake's tempering effect. Along the southeastern shore in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York is an important grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

 growing region, as are the islands in the lake. Apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

 orchards are abundant in northeast Ohio to western New York.

Long term weather patterns

There are conflicting reports about the overall effect of global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 on the Great Lakes region, including Lake Erie. One account suggests that climate change is causing greater evaporation
Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs only on the surface of a liquid. The other type of vaporization is boiling, which, instead, occurs on the entire mass of the liquid....

 of lake water, leading to warmer temperatures as well as ice in winter which is less thick or nonexistent, fueling concerns that "Erie appears to be shrinking" and is the most likely candidate among the five Great Lakes to "turn into a festering mud puddle." In 2010, the Windsor Star
Windsor Star
The Windsor Star is the regional newspaper of Windsor, Ontario , and is owned by the Postmedia Network Inc. Since 1923, the publication's main office is located at 167 Ferry Street in the downtown area...

reported that the lake experienced "record-breaking temperatures" reaching 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27°C) in mid-August and compared the lake to a "bath tub". But the long term weather patterns are subject to controversy.

Ecosystems

Lake Erie has a complex ecosystem with many species in constant interaction. Human activity, such as pollution and maritime ship traffic, can affect this environment in numerous ways. The interactions between the new species can sometimes have beneficial effects, as well as harmful effects. Some introductions have been seen as beneficial such as the introduction of Pacific salmon. Occasionally there have been mass die-offs of certain species of fish, sometimes for reasons unknown, such as many numbers of rainbow smelt
Rainbow smelt
The rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, is an anadromous species of fish of the family Osmeridae. The distribution of Osmerus mordax is circumpolar. The rainbow smelt was introduced to the Great Lakes, and from there has made its way to various other places. Walleye, trout, and other larger fish prey on...

 in May 2010.

Invasive species

The lake has been plagued with a number of invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

, including Zebra
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

 and quagga
Quagga mussel
The quagga mussel is a subspecies of freshwater mussel, an aquatic bivalve mollusk.It is one of seven Dreissena species and has an average life span of 3 to 5 years....

 mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s, the goby
Round Goby
The round goby, Neogobius melanostomus, is an euryhaline bottom-dwelling goby of the family Gobiidae, native to central Eurasia including the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.-Characteristics:...

 and the grass carp
Grass carp
The grass carp is a herbivorous, freshwater fish species of family Cyprinidae, and the only species of the genus Ctenopharyngodon. It is cultivated in China for food, but was introduced in Europe and the United States for aquatic weed control...

. One estimate was that there have been 180 invasive species in the Great Lakes, some having traveled in ballast water in international ships. Zebra mussels and gobies have been credited with the increased population and size of smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass
The smallmouth bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus...

 in Lake Erie. In 2008 there were concerns that the "newest invader swarming in the Great Lakes", which was the "bloody-red shrimp", might harm fish populations and promote algae blooms.

Environmentalists and biologists study lake conditions, such as the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island
Gibraltar Island
Gibraltar Island is an island in Ohio, located within Lake Erie. This small island is just offshore of South Bass Island.-History:...

 near Put-in-Bay which is the oldest "freshwater biological field station" and campus of Ohio State University
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

. In addition, the Great Lakes Institute of the University of Windsor
University of Windsor
The University of Windsor is a public comprehensive and research university in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It is Canada's southernmost university. It has a student population of approximately 15,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate students and over 1000 graduate students...

 has experts who study issues such as lake sediment pollution and the flow of contaminants such as phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

.

Eutrophication and the infamous dead zone

An ongoing concern is that "nutrient overloading from fertilizers, human and animal waste", known as eutrophication
Eutrophication
Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

, in which additional nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 and phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

 enter the lake, will cause plant life to "run wild and multiply like crazy". Since there are fewer wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, which are like "Nature's kidneys" by filtering nutrients, as well as greater "channelization of waterways", nutrients in water can cause algal blooms to sprout as well as "low-oxygen dead zones" in a complex interaction of natural forces.

There is a dead zone within the middle of the lake although its exact location varies. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , pronounced , like "noah", is a scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere...

 have been studying the lake's blue-green algae blooms, and trying to find ways to predict when they are spreading or where they might hit landfall; typically the blooms arrive late each summer. One account suggests that the seasonal algae blooms in Lake Erie were possibly caused by "runoff from cities, fertilizers, zebra mussels, and livestock near water." A second report focuses on the zebra mussels as being the cause of "big oxygen-poor dead zones" since they filter so much sediment that they have resulted in the growth of algae. One report suggests the oxygen-poor zone began about 1993 in the lake's central basin and becomes more pronounced during summer months, but it is somewhat of a mystery why this happens. Some scientists speculate that the dead zone is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Another report cited Ohio's Maumee River
Maumee River
The Maumee River is a river in northwestern Ohio and northeastern Indiana in the United States. It is formed at Fort Wayne, Indiana by the confluence of the St. Joseph and St. Marys rivers, and meanders northeastwardly for through an agricultural region of glacial moraines before flowing into the...

 as the main source of polluted runoff of phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

 from industries, municipalities, tributaries and agriculture, and in 2008, satellite images showed the algal bloom heading towards Pelee Island, and possibly heading to Lake Erie's central basin. There have been two-year $2 million studies trying to understand the "growing zone" which was described as a "10-foot-thick layer of cold water at the bottom", 55 feet (16.8 m) in one area, which stretches "100 miles across the lake's center". It kills fish and microscopic creatures of the lake's food chain and fouls the water, and may cause further problems in later years for sport and commercial fishing.

Snakes

The Lake Erie water snake, a subspecies of the northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon), lives in the vicinity of Ohio's Put-in-Bay Harbor, and had been put on the threatened species list. A threatened species
Threatened species
Threatened species are any speciesg animals, plants, fungi, etc.) which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future.The World Conservation Union is the foremost authority on threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories,...

 is one which may soon become an endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

. By 2010, the water snake population was over 12,000 snakes. While they have a non-venomous bite, they are a key predator in the lake's aquatic ecosystem since they feed on mudpuppies and walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

 and smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass
The smallmouth bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus...

. The snake was helpful in keeping the population of goby
Goby
The gobies form the family Gobiidae, which is one of the largest families of fish, with more than 2,000 species in more than 200 genera. Most are relatively small, typically less than 10 cm in length...

 fish in check. They mate from late May through early June and can be found in large mating balls with one female bunched with several males.

Asian carp

There was concern that Asian carp
Asian carp
Many species of heavy-bodied cyprinid fish are collectively known in the United States as Asian carp. Cyprinids from the subcontinent [for example, catla and mrigal ] are not included in this classification, and are known collectively as "Indian carp".Eight Asian carp have been substantially...

 might enter the Great Lakes region and alter the ecosystem negatively. They have been described as "greedy giants that suck plankton from the water with the brutal efficiency of vacuum cleaners" and scientists worry that they may unravel the "aquatic food web" by crowding out other species.

Snakehead fish

There was concern in 2007 that Snakehead fish could get into the Great Lakes area. A YouTube video mentioned in a newspaper account has a man claiming that the fish could "bite your entire hand off", and officials warn that if the fish invades, it could "decimate the aquatic food chain". The fish can reach 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 m) in length and "survive out of water for four days" and "has a mouth full of teeth that can sheer fish in half" and can "eat ducks and small mammals."


Agriculture and life around the lake

In 1999, Doppler radar weather sensors detected millions of mayflies heading for Presque Isle in blue and green splotches on the radar in clouds measuring ten miles (16 km) long. These insects were a sign of Lake Erie's move back to health, since the mayflies require clean water to thrive. Biologist Masteller of Penn State Erie
Pennsylvania State University
The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State or PSU, is a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the state of Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1855, the university has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service...

 declared the bugs to be a "nice nuisance" since they signified the lake's return to health after forty years of absence. Each is an inch and a half long; the three main species of mayflies are Ephemera simulans, Hexagenia rigida and Hexagenia limbata. The insects mate over a 72-hour period from June through September; they fly in masses up to the shore, mate in the air, then females lay up to 8,000 eggs each over the water; the eggs sink back down and the cycle repeats. Sometimes the clouds of mayflies have caused power outages as well as causing roads to become slippery with squashed insects. Since zebra mussel
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

s filter extra nutrients from the lake, it allows the mayfly larve to thrive.
There have been incidents of birds being poisoned by a nerve toxin named botulism
Botulism
Botulism also known as botulinus intoxication is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by botulinum toxin which is metabolic waste produced under anaerobic conditions by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and affecting a wide range of mammals, birds and fish...

, apparently ingested after eating fish infected with type E botulism, in 2000, and in 2002. Birds affected included grebes, common and red-breasted mergansers, loons, diving ducks, ring-billed gulls and herring gulls. One account suggests that bird populations are in trouble, notably the woodland warbler, which had population declines around 60 percent in 2008. Possible causes for declines in bird populations are farming practices, loss of habitats, soil depletion and erosion, and toxic chemicals. In 2006, there were concerns of possible bird flu after two wild swans on the lake were found diseased, but it was learned that they did not contain the deadly H5N1 virus. There were sightings of a magnificent frigatebird
Magnificent Frigatebird
The Magnificent Frigatebird was sometimes previously known as Man O'War, reflecting its rakish lines, speed, and aerial piracy of other birds....

, a tropical bird with a two-metre wingspan, over the lake in 2008.

Water quality issues and restoration

Lake Erie infamously became very polluted in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the quantity of heavy industry
Heavy industry
Heavy industry does not have a single fixed meaning as compared to light industry. It can mean production of products which are either heavy in weight or in the processes leading to their production. In general, it is a popular term used within the name of many Japanese and Korean firms, meaning...

 situated in cities on its shores, with reports of bacteria-laden beaches and fish contaminated by industrial waste. In the 1970s, patches of the lake were declared dead because of industrial waste
Industrial waste
Industrial waste is a type of waste produced by industrial activity, such as that of factories, mills and mines. It has existed since the outset of the industrial revolution....

 as well as sewage from runoffs; as New York Times reporter Denny Lee wrote in 2004, "The lake, after all, is where the Rust Belt meets the water."

The water quality
Water quality
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which...

 deteriorated partially due to increasing levels of the nutrient phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

 in both the water and lake bottom sediments. The resultant high nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 levels in the water caused eutrophication
Eutrophication
Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

, which resulted in algal bloom
Algal bloom
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration...

s and Algae masses and fish kill
Fish kill
The term fish kill, known also as fish die-off and as fish mortality, is a localized die-off of fish populations which may also be associated with more generalised mortality of aquatic life...

s increasingly fouled the shoreline during this period. There were incidents of the oily surfaces of tributary rivers emptying into Lake Erie catching fire: in 1969, Cleveland's Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River
The Cuyahoga River is located in Northeast Ohio in the United States. Outside of Ohio, the river is most famous for being "the river that caught fire", helping to spur the environmental movement in the late 1960s...

 erupted in flames, chronicled in a Time Magazine article which lamented a tendency to use rivers flowing through major cities as "convenient, free sewers"; the Detroit River
Detroit River
The Detroit River is a strait in the Great Lakes system. The name comes from the French Rivière du Détroit, which translates literally as "River of the Strait". The Detroit River has served an important role in the history of Detroit and is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The river...

 caught fire on another occasion. The outlook was gloomy:
These events embarrassed officials and spurred local officials, including Cleveland's director of public utilities, Ben Stefanski, to pursue a massive effort to "scrub the Cuyahoga"; the effort cost $100 billion in bonds, according to one estimate. New sewer lines were built. Clevelanders approved a bond issue by 2 to 1 to seriously upgrade Cleveland's sewage system. Federal officials acted as well; the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed the Clean Water Act
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Commonly abbreviated as the CWA, the act established the goals of eliminating releases of high amounts of toxic substances into water, eliminating additional water pollution by 1985, and ensuring that...

 of 1972. In that year, the United States and Canada established water pollution
Water pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies . Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds....

 limits in an International Water Quality Agreement. The controls were effective, but it took several decades to take effect; by 1999, there were signs that large numbers of mayflies were spotted on the lake after a forty-year absence signalling a return to health. The clearing of the water column is also partly due to the introduction and rapid spread of zebra mussel
Zebra mussel
The zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, is a small freshwater mussel. This species was originally native to the lakes of southeast Russia being first described in 1769 by a German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. They are still found nearby, as Pontic and Caspian...

s from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, which had the effect of covering "the basin floor like shag carpeting" with each creature filtering "a liter of fresh water a day," helping to restore the lake to a cleaner state. The 1972 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement also significantly reduced the dumping and runoff of phosphorus into the lake. The lake has since become clean enough to allow sunlight to infiltrate its water and produce algae and sea weed, but a dead zone persists in the central Lake Erie Basin
Lake Erie Basin
Lake Erie Basin consists of Lake Erie and surrounding watersheds, which are typically named after the river, creek, or stream that provides drainage into the lake. The watersheds are located in the states of Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the United States, and in the...

 during the late summer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 has studied this cyclic phenomenon since 2005. There have been instances of beach closings at Presque Isle
Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on an arching sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie, west of the city of Erie, in Millcreek Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The peninsula sweeps northeastward, surrounding Presque Isle Bay along the park's...

 off the coast of northwestern Pennsylvania because of unexplained E. Coli contaminations, possibly caused by storm water overflows after heavy downpours, but overall the lake's water quality has improved substantially since the late 1950s.
Since the 1970s environmental regulation has led to a great increase in water quality and the return of economically important fish species such as walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

 and other biological life. There was substantial evidence that the new controls had substantially reduced levels of DDT
DDT
DDT is one of the most well-known synthetic insecticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history....

 in the water by 1979. Cleanup efforts were described in 1979 as a notable environmental success story:

Other ecosystem related issues

There was a tentative exploratory plan to capture CO2, compress it to a liquid form, and pump it a half-mile (800 m) beneath Lake Erie's surface underneath the porous rock structure. According to chemical engineer
Chemical engineering
Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with physical science , and life sciences with mathematics and economics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms...

 Peter Douglas, there is sufficient storage space beneath Lake Erie to hold between 15 to 50 years of liquid CO2 emissions from the 4,000 megawatt Nanticoke coal plant. But there has been no substantial progress on this issue since 2007.

Species of fish

Lake Erie is home to one of the world's largest freshwater commercial fisheries. Lake Erie's fish populations are the most abundant of the Great Lakes, partially because of the lake's relatively mild temperatures and plentiful supply of plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

, which is the basic building block of the food chain
Food chain
A food web depicts feeding connections in an ecological community. Ecologists can broadly lump all life forms into one of two categories called trophic levels: 1) the autotrophs, and 2) the heterotrophs...

. The lake is "loaded with superstars" such as steelhead, walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

 (American usage) or pickerel
Esox
Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae — the esocids which were endemic to North America, Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike...

 (Canadian usage), smallmouth bass
Smallmouth bass
The smallmouth bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family of the order Perciformes. It is the type species of its genus...

, perch
Perch
Perch is a common name for fish of the genus Perca, freshwater gamefish belonging to the family Percidae. The perch, of which there are three species in different geographical areas, lend their name to a large order of vertebrates: the Perciformes, from the Greek perke meaning spotted, and the...

, as well as bass, trout, salmon, whitefesh, smelt, and many others. The lake consists of a long list of well established introduced species
Introduced species
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...

. Common non-indigenous fish species include the rainbow smelt
Rainbow smelt
The rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, is an anadromous species of fish of the family Osmeridae. The distribution of Osmerus mordax is circumpolar. The rainbow smelt was introduced to the Great Lakes, and from there has made its way to various other places. Walleye, trout, and other larger fish prey on...

, alewife
Alewife
The alewife is a species of herring. There are anadromous and landlocked forms. The landlocked form is also called a sawbelly or mooneye...

, white perch
White perch
The white perch, Morone americana, is not a true perch but is, rather, a fish of the temperate bass family, Moronidae, notable as a food and game fish in eastern North America.The name "white perch" is sometimes erroneously applied to the white crappie....

 and common carp
Common carp
The Common carp is a widespread freshwater fish of eutrophic waters in lakes and large rivers in Europe and Asia. The wild populations are considered vulnerable to extinction, but the species has also been domesticated and introduced into environments worldwide, and is often considered an invasive...

. Non-native sport fish such as rainbow trout
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

 and brown trout
Brown trout
The brown trout and the sea trout are fish of the same species....

 are stocked specifically for anglers to catch. Attempts failed to stock coho salmon
Coho salmon
The Coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch, is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family. Coho salmon are also known as silver salmon or "silvers". It is the state animal of Chiba, Japan.-Description:...

 and its numbers are once again dwindling. Commercial landings are dominated by yellow perch and walleye
Walleye
Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch...

, with substantial quantities of rainbow smelt
Rainbow smelt
The rainbow smelt, Osmerus mordax, is an anadromous species of fish of the family Osmeridae. The distribution of Osmerus mordax is circumpolar. The rainbow smelt was introduced to the Great Lakes, and from there has made its way to various other places. Walleye, trout, and other larger fish prey on...

 and white bass
White bass
The white bass or sand bass The white bass or sand bass The white bass or sand bass (MoroneIt is the state fish of Oklahoma.- Range :White bass are distributed widely across the United States, particularly in the midwest. They are very abundant in Pennsylvania and the area around Lake Erie...

 also taken. Anglers target walleye and yellow perch, with some effort directed at rainbow trout
Rainbow trout
The rainbow trout is a species of salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. The steelhead is a sea run rainbow trout usually returning to freshwater to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In other words, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species....

. A variety of other species are taken in smaller quantities by both commercial and sport fleets.

Up until the end of the 1950s, the most commonly caught commercial fish (more than 50% of the commercial catch) was a subspecies of the walleye known as the Blue Walleye
Blue walleye
The blue walleye , also called the blue pike, was a subspecies of the walleye that went extinct in the Great Lakes in the 1980s...

 (sander vitreus glaucus) sometimes erroneously called "blue pike". In the 1970s and 1980s, as pollution in the lake declined, counts of Walleyes which were caught grew from 112,000 in 1975 to 4.1 million in 1985, with estimates of the numbers of Walleyes in the lake at around 33 million in the basin, with many of 8 pounds or more. Not all Walleyes thrived. The combination of overfishing and the eutrophication of the lake by pollution caused the population to collapse, and in the mid 1980s, one species of Walleye called the Blue Walleye
Blue walleye
The blue walleye , also called the blue pike, was a subspecies of the walleye that went extinct in the Great Lakes in the 1980s...

 was declared extinct. But the Lake Erie Walleye was reportedly having record numbers, even in 1989, according to one report. There have been concerns about rising levels of mercury in Walleye fish; a study by the Canadian Ministry of the Environment noted an "increasing concentration trend" but that limits were within acceptable established by authorities in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. It was recommended, because of PCBs, that persons eat no more than one walleye meal per month. Because of these and other concerns, in 1990, the National Wildlife Federation was on the verge of having a "negative fish consumption advisory" for walleyes and smallmouth bass, which had been the bread-and-butter catch of an $800 million commercial fishing industry.

The longest fish in Lake Erie is reportedly the sturgeon
Sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

 which can grow to ten feet long and weight 300 pounds, but it is an endangered species
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 and mostly lives on the bottom of the lake. In 2009, there was a confirmed instance of a sturgeon being caught, which was returned to the lake alive, and there are hopes that the population of sturgeons is resurging.

Commercial fishing

Estimates vary about the fishing market for the Great Lakes region. One estimate of the total market for fishing, including commercial as well as sport or recreational fishing, for all of the Great Lakes, was $4 billion annually, in 2007. A second estimate was that the fishing industry was valued at more than $7 billion.

But since high levels of pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 were discovered in the 1960s and 1970s, there has been continued debate over the desired intensity of commercial fishing. Commercial fishing
Commercial fishing
Commercial fishing is the activity of catching fish and other seafood for commercial profit, mostly from wild fisheries. It provides a large quantity of food to many countries around the world, but those who practice it as an industry must often pursue fish far into the ocean under adverse conditions...

 in Lake Erie has been hurt by the bad economy as well as government regulations which limit the size of their catch; one report suggested that the numbers of fishing boats and employees had declined by two-thirds in recent decades. Another concern had been that pollution in the lake, as well as toxins found inside fish, were working against commercial fishing interests. U.S. fishermen based along Lake Erie "lost their livelihood" over the past few decades described as being "caught in a net of laws and bans", according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, also known simply as the "PG," is the largest daily newspaper serving metropolitan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.-Early history:...

, and no longer catch fish such as whitefish
Whitefish (fisheries term)
Whitefish or white fish is a fisheries term referring to several species of demersal fish with fins, particularly cod , whiting , and haddock , but also hake , pollock , or others...

 for markets in New York. Pennsylvania had a special $3 stamp on fishing licenses to help "compensate commercial fishermen for their losses", but this program ended after five years turning Erie's commercial fishing industry into an "artifact." One blamed the commercial fishing ban after a "test of wills" between commercial and recreational fishermen: "One side needed large hauls. The other feared the lake was being emptied."

Commercial fishing is now predominantly based in Canadian communities, with a much smaller fishery—largely restricted to yellow perch
Yellow perch
The yellow perch is a species of perch found in the United States and Canada, where it is often referred to by the shortform perch. Yellow perch look similar to the European perch, but are paler and more yellowish, with less red in the fins. They have six to eight dark, vertical bars on their sides...

—in Ohio. One account suggested that Canadian fishermen are "still at it and making money" and they "know how to fish" by "using the old nets." The Ontario fishery is one of the most intensively managed in the world. However, there are reports that some Canadian commercial fishermen are dissatisfied with fishing quotas, and have sued their government about this matter, and there have been complaints that the legislative body writing the quotas is "dominated by the U.S." and that sport fishing interests are favored at the expense of commercial fishing interests. Cuts of 30 to 45 percent for certain fish were made in 2007. The Lake Erie fishery was one of the first fisheries in the world managed on individual transferable quotas and features mandatory daily catch reporting and intensive auditing of the catch reporting system. Still, the commercial fishery is the target of critics who would like to see the lake managed for the exclusive benefit of sport fishing and the various industries serving the sport fishery. In November 2010, Ontario's oldest and largest fish processor known as Great Lakes Fish Corporation was shut down after operating for a hundred years; 130 workers were laid off and numerous spinoff jobs disappeared, such as jobs at local restaurants and net repair shops. According to one report, the Canadian town of Port Dover
Port Dover, Ontario
Port Dover is an unincorporated community and former town located in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada on the north shore of Lake Erie.The community was the subject of an American raid during the War of 1812, on May 14, 1814....

 is the home of the lake's largest fishing fleet, and the town features miniature golf, dairy bars, French-fry stands, and restaurants serving perch.

Government regulation of fishing

The lake can be thought of as a common asset with multiple purposes including being a fishery. There was direct competition between commercial fishermen and sport fishermen (including charter boats and sales of fishing licenses) throughout the lake's history, with both sides seeking government assistance from either Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 or Ottawa, and trying to make their case in the "court" of public opinion
Public opinion
Public opinion is the aggregate of individual attitudes or beliefs held by the adult population. Public opinion can also be defined as the complex collection of opinions of many different people and the sum of all their views....

 through newspaper reporting. But other groups have entered the political process as well, including environmentalists
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, lakefront property owners, industry owners and workers seeking cost-effective solutions for sewage, ferry boat operators, even corporations making electric-generating wind turbines.

Management of the fishery is by consensus of all management agencies with an interest in the resource and include the states of New York, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 and the province of Ontario, and work under the mandate of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is a bi-national commission made up of representatives of the United States and Canada. It was formed by the Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries, ratified in 1955. It has eight members: four members are appointed by the President of the United States, serving...

. The commission makes assessments using sophisticated mathematical modeling systems. The Commission has been the focus of considerable recrimination, primarily from angler and charter fishing groups in the U.S. which have had a historical antipathy to commercial fishing interests. This conflict is complex, dating from the 1960s and earlier, with the result in the United States that, in 2011, commercial fishing was mostly eliminated from Great Lakes states. One report suggests that battling between diverse fishing interests began around Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the United States. It is the second largest of the Great Lakes by volume and the third largest by surface area, after Lake Superior and Lake Huron...

 and evolved to cover the entire Great Lakes region. The analysis suggests that in the Lake Erie context, the competition between sport and commercial fishing involves universals and that these conflicts are cultural, not scientific, and therefore not resolvable by reference to ecological data.

Sport fishing

The lake also supports a strong sport fishery. While commercial fishing declined, sport fishing has remained, although one hitch for Americans seeking to fish in the lake is the problem that the "deeper and cooler waters" that spawn the best fishing is in the Canadian side of the lake. As a result, a fishing boat that crosses the international border triggers the security concerns of border crossings; one article in USA Today
USA Today
USA Today is a national American daily newspaper published by the Gannett Company. It was founded by Al Neuharth. The newspaper vies with The Wall Street Journal for the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States, something it previously held since 2003...

advised fishermen to "pack your passport". If their boat crosses the invisible border line in the lake, upon returning to the American shore, passengers will have to "drive to a local government reporting station and pose for pictures" to Customs officers by videophone. There are cumbersome rules for fishing boat operators as well, who will have to fax passenger personal information to a government agency an hour before leaving; officers will be watching and doing spot checks from patrol boats and government aircraft". Authorities in 2008 from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission have tried stocking the lake with brown trout
Brown trout
The brown trout and the sea trout are fish of the same species....

 in an effort to build what's called a put-grow-and-take fishery. There was a report that charter boat fishing increased substantially on the American side, from 46 to 638 charter boats in operation in Ohio alone, during a period from 1975 to 1985 as pollution levels declined, and after populations of Walleye increased substantially in the lake. In 1984, Ohio sold 27,000 nonresident fishing permits, and sport fishing was described as "big, big business." In 1992, there were accounts of fishermen catching 8, 10, and 12 pound Walleyes and that the "runt of a five-man daily limit of 25 walleye might be a nuisance of 5 pounds." It is possible to fish off piers in winter although it can get "pretty darned cold on those piers" for a fish called the burbot
Burbot
The burbot is the only gadiform fish inhabiting freshwaters. It is also known as mariah, the lawyer, and eelpout. It is closely related to the marine common ling and the cusk...

, also known by pseudonyms such as eelpout, mudblow, lawyer fish, cusk, or freshwater cod, which looks "ugly" but tastes great; the burbot make a midwinter spawning run and is reportedly one of "Erie's glacial relics."

Ice fishing

In winter when the lake freezes, many fisherman go out on the ice, cut holes, and fish. It is possible to even build bonfires on the ice.

But venturing on Lake Erie ice can be dangerous. In a freak incident in 2009, warming temperatures and winds of 35 miles per hour and currents pushing eastward dislodged a miles-wide ice floe which broke away from the shore, trapping more than 130 fishermen offshore; one man died while the rest were rescued by helicopters or boats.

Agriculture

The lake's formerly more extensive lakebed creates a favorable environment for agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 in the bordering areas of Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York. The Lake Erie sections of western New York State have a suitable climate for growing grapes, and in Chautauqua County there have been many vineyards and wineries in the area as well as in Erie County in northwestern Pennsylvania. Much grape juice is produced in this region. The Canadian region of Lake Erie's north shore is becoming a more prominent wine region as well; it has been dubbed the Lake Erie North Shore, or LENS region, and includes Pelee Island, and since it is farther north than comparable wine-growing areas in the world, the season is longer in terms of light. "Spring comes to LENS at least two weeks earlier and winter arrives a minimum of two weeks later than the rest of Ontario's wine regions", and the lake-moderated temperatures make the risk of early frosts less likely.

The drainage basin has led to well fertilized soil. Ohio's
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 north coast is widely referred to as the nursery capital.

Diving for shipwrecks

Lake Erie is a favorite for divers since there are many shipwrecks, perhaps 1,400 to 8,000 according to one estimate, of which about 270 are "confirmed shipwreck locations." Most wrecks are undiscovered but believed to be well preserved and in good condition and at most only 200 feet (61 m) below the water surface. One report suggests there are more "wrecks per square mile" than any other freshwater location, including wrecks from Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 watercraft. There are efforts to identify shipwreck sites and survey the lake floor to map the location of underwater sites, possibly for further study or exploration. While the lake is relatively warmer than the other Great Lakes, there is a thermocline, meaning that as a diver descends, the water temperature drops about 30 F-change, requiring a wetsuit. One estimate is that Lake Erie has a quarter of all 8,000 estimated shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. They are preserved because the water is cold and salt-free creating "intact time capsules down there". Divers have a policy of not removing or touching anything at the wreck else the "next person won't be able to see it"; when artifacts were removed on occasion, it was met by "outrage" by the diving community. The cold conditions make diving difficult and "strenuous" requiring divers with skill and experience. One charter firm from western New York State takes about 1,500 divers to Lake Erie shipwrecks in a typical season from April through October.
In 1991, the 19th-century sidewheeler Atlantic was discovered. It had sunk in a collision with the Ogdensburg, a steamship sometimes referred to as a propeller according to 19th century parlance, in 1852 six miles (10 km) west of Long Point, Ontario and survivors from the Atlantic were saved by the Ogdensburg. One account suggests 130 people drowned while another suggests about 20 drowned. The aftermath of the disaster led to calls for authorities to seize captains of both ships so "that the cause of the collision may be correctly ascertained" as well as calls for more lifeboats and improved life preservers since the earlier ones proved to be "totally useless." There was speculation that the sunken vessel had been a gambling ship, and therefore there might have been money aboard, but most historians were skeptical. In 1998, the shipwreck of the vessel Adventure was the first shipwreck registered with the state of Ohio as an "underwater archaeological site"; when it was discovered that the Adventure's propeller had been removed and given to a junkyard, the propeller was rescued days before being converted to scrap metal and brought back to the dive site and back to its underwater home. In 2003, divers discovered the steamer Canobie near Presque Isle, which sunk in 1921. Other wrecks include the fish tub Neal H. Dow (1910), the Elderado "steamer-cum-barge" (1880), the W. R. Hanna, the Dundee which sank north of Cleveland in 1900, the F. H. Prince, and The Craftsman. In 2007, the wreck of the steamship named after Mad Anthony Wayne was found near Vermilion, Ohio
Vermilion, Ohio
Vermilion is a city in Erie and Lorain counties in Ohio, on the North Coast of the U.S.A. The population was 10,927 at the 2000 census. The current mayor is Eileen Bulan...

 in 50 feet (15 m) of water; the vessel sank in 1850 after its boilers exploded, and 38 people died. The wreck belongs to the state of Ohio and "salvaging it is illegal" but divers can visit it after it is surveyed. Incidentally, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald
SS Edmund Fitzgerald
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that made headlines after sinking in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29. When launched on June 8, 1958, she was the largest boat on North America's Great Lakes, and she remains...

sank in 1975 in Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

 and the disaster was chronicled in Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s...

's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is a song written, composed and performed by Canadian Gordon Lightfoot to commemorate the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. It was inspired by the Newsweek article on the event, "The Cruelest Month", which...

. In addition, there are wrecks of smaller vessels, with occasional drownings of fishermen.
The finding of the well-preserved wreck of the Canadian-built British troop transport warship Caledonia, sunk during the War of 1812, has led to accusations about plundering of the site and legal wrangling about whether the vessel should be resurfaced in time for the 2013 war's bicentennial.

Research into shipwrecks has been organized by the Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center, or PLESRC, located on the grounds of the Great Lakes Historical Society. In 2008, the Great Lakes Historical Society announced plans to survey the underwater battle site of the Battle of Lake Erie
Battle of Lake Erie
The Battle of Lake Erie, sometimes called the Battle of Put-in-Bay, was fought on 10 September 1813, in Lake Erie off the coast of Ohio during the War of 1812. Nine vessels of the United States Navy defeated and captured six vessels of Great Britain's Royal Navy...

 in preparation for the bicentennial celebration of the battle in 2013.

Public parks

There are numerous public parks around the lake. In western Pennsylvania, a wildlife reserve was established in 1991 in Springfield Township for hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

, fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing is a winter sport in which participants propel themselves across snow-covered terrain using skis and poles...

 and walking along the beach. In Ontario, Long Point is a peninsula on the northwest shore near Port Rowan that extends 20 miles (32.2 km) into Lake Erie which is a stopover for birds migrating as well as turtles; one reporter found a "turtle-crossing" sign along the road; Long Point Provincial Park
Long Point Provincial Park
Long Point Provincial Park is an Ontario provincial park on the northwest shore of Lake Erie near Port Rowan, Ontario, Canada.-Summary:The park is located on a sandy spit of land called Long Point that juts out into the lake...

 is located there and has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. In Ontario's Sand Hill Park, east of Port Burwell
Port Burwell, Ontario
Port Burwell is a community on the north shore of Lake Erie, in the municipality of Bayham in Elgin County, Ontario, Canada.It is situated at the mouth of Big Otter Creek.-History:...

, there is a 450 feet (137.2 m) high dune which is so steep it requires people to "crawl like crabs to the summit" but they are rewarded with spectacular lake views. In southern Michigan, Sterling State Park
Sterling State Park
Sterling State Park in the United States is the only Michigan state park located on the shores of Lake Erie. The park encompasses 2.03 mi² just northeast of Monroe, Michigan in Frenchtown Charter Township in Monroe County. The park was established in 1920. The park sits just north of where the...

 offers campgrounds, 1300 acres (526.1 ha) for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, with a "white sandy beach" for sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking.

Biking

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

reporter Donna Marchetti took a bike tour around the Lake Erie perimeter in 1997, traveling 40 miles (64.4 km) per day and staying at bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast
A bed and breakfast is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Since the 1980s, the meaning of the term has also extended to include accommodations that are also known as "self-catering" establishments...

s. They went through the cities of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, Erie
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

, Windsor
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

, Detroit
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

 and Toledo
Toledo, Ohio
Toledo is the fourth most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Lucas County. Toledo is in northwest Ohio, on the western end of Lake Erie, and borders the State of Michigan...

 as well as resort towns, vineyards, and cornfields. The trip highlights were the "small port towns and rural farmlands of southern Ontario". There are few bike repair shops in Ontario on the route.

Islands

Lake Erie islands tend to be in the westernmost part of the lake and have different characters. Some of them include:
  • Kelleys Island
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Kelleys Island is both a village in Erie County, Ohio, United States, and the island which it fully occupies in Lake Erie. Originally known as Island Number 6 and later Cunningham Island, it was renamed in 1840 for brothers Datus and Irad Kelley, who were largely responsible for cultivatating the...

    . One account in the Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

    depicted the charms of Kelleys Island to be "more subtle" than Put-in-Bay
    Put-in-Bay, Ohio
    Put-in-Bay is a village located on South Bass Island in Put-in-Bay Township, Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. Many believe that the name originates from some early maps of South Bass Island that showed the harbor being named Pudding Bay, probably because it was shaped like a pudding sack. The...

     with activities such as beach lounging, hiking, biking, and "marveling at deep glacial grooves left in limestone."
  • Pelee Island
    Pelee, Ontario
    Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada , is an island in the western half of Lake Erie. Pelee Island is connected to the Canadian and United States mainland by ferry service. At 42 km2, Pelee Island is the largest island in Lake Erie and the southernmost populated point in Canada...

    . There is a ferry from Leamington
    Leamington, Ontario
    Leamington is a municipality in Essex County, southern Ontario, Canada, and has a population of 31,113. It includes Point Pelee, the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the...

     in Ontario to this largest of the Lake Erie islands. According to one report, the island has a "fragile and unique ecosystem" with plants rarely found in Canada such as wild hyacinth, yellow horse gentian, and prickly pear cactus. There are two endangered snakes including the blue racer and the Lake Erie water snake. Songbirds migrate there in spring, and monarch butterflies stop over during the fall.
  • South Bass Island
    South Bass Island
    South Bass Island is a small island in western Lake Erie, and a part of Ottawa County, Ohio, United States. It is the southernmost of the three Bass Islands and located 12 miles from the south shore of Lake Erie. It is the third largest island in the Lake Erie Islands. The island is a popular...

     The island-village of Put-in-Bay, Ohio attracts young crowds who sometimes wear "red bucket hats" prone to "break off cartwheels in the park" and general merriment. It was described in one account as the "party island" with "lovely, rocky cliffs" with a year-round population in the hundreds that "explodes during the gentle Midwestern summer."

Water sports

Kayaking has become more popular along the lake, particularly in places such as Put-in-Bay, Ohio. There are spectacular views with steep cliffs with exotic wildlife and "100 miles of paddle-friendly shoreline." Long distance swimmers have swum across the lake to set records; for example, a 15-year-old amputee swum the 12 miles (19.3 km) stretch across the lake in 2001. In 2008, 14-year-old Jade Scognamillo swam from New York's Sturgeon Point to Ontario's Crystal Beach
Crystal Beach, Ontario
Crystal Beach is a community within Fort Erie, Ontario with a population of 3,800. It was named for the "crystal-clear" water conditions present when it was founded on the northeast shore of Lake Erie, across from Buffalo....

 and completed the 11.9-mile (19.2-km) swim in five hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds, and also became the youngest swimmer to make the crossing. It is illegal for swimmers younger than 14 to attempt such a crossing. In Port Dover, Ontario, brave swimmers do high-dives at the annual Polar Bear Swim on the beach; in 2011, the water was 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0°C), although the air was warmer, which did not deter 14-year old youth Austin Merrell. Currents can pose a problem, and there have been occasional incidents of drownings.

Lighthouses

The lake is dotted by distinct lighthouses. A lighthouse off the coast of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, beset with cold lake winter spray, has an unusual artistic icy shape, although sometimes ice prevents the light from being seen by maritime vessels.

Towns along the lake

A New York Times reporter, biking through the region in 1997, found the Ontario town of Port Stanley
Port Stanley, Ontario
Port Stanley is a community in the Municipality of Central Elgin, Ontario, Elgin County, located on the north shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of Kettle Creek.-History:...

 to be the "prettiest of the port towns" with a lively "holiday air" but no "ticky-tacky commercialism".

Vineyards

There are numerous vineyards around the lake, including ones on Pelee Island which makes wines including pinot noir, riesling and chardonnay.

Summer rentals

People can rent summer houses and cabins near the lake to enjoy the beaches, swimming, as well as be close to activities such as wine tours and fishing and water parks. Presque Isle
Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a Pennsylvania state park on an arching sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie, west of the city of Erie, in Millcreek Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The peninsula sweeps northeastward, surrounding Presque Isle Bay along the park's...

 is a peninsula jutting out into the lake in northwestern Pennsylvania which has nice beaches, although there were incidents in 2006 when beaches had to be closed because of unexplained unhealthy water conditions with E. Coli bacteria. It was described as a "spit of sand, trees and swamp that arcs off the shore" with seafood restaurants and beautiful sunsets. Pelee Island, Canada's southernmost point and only three miles away from Ohio, is a place that "forces you to do nothing":

Pleasure cruises

Pleasure boat operators offer dinner cruises in the Cleveland area on the Cuyahoga River as well as Lake Erie.

Folklore

  • Lake Erie Monster. There have been reports of persons spotting a creature akin to the Loch Ness Monster
    Loch Ness Monster
    The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that is reputed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next....

    , but there have been no confirmed reports. There were reports in 1990 of people seeing a "large creature moving in the water about 1000 feet (304.8 m) from their boat" described as black in color, about 35 feet (10.7 m) long, with a "snakelike head", and moved as fast as a boat. Five other people reported seeing something similar on three separate occasions but there is no scientific evidence of such a creature. There is a beer
    Beer
    Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

     named after the Lake Erie Monster as well as a hockey team. There were reports of people spotting a sea creature in the 19th century which was sometimes called Bessie or South Bay Bessie.

  • Lake Erie Mirage Effect. There have been sporadic reports of people in Cleveland being able to see the Canadian shoreline as if it were immediately offshore, even though Canada is 50 miles (80.5 km) from Cleveland. It has been speculated that this is a weather-related phenomenon, working on similar principles to a mirage.

Shipping traffic

The lake has been a "bustling thoroughfare" for maritime vessels for centuries. Ships headed eastwards can take the Welland Canal
Welland Canal
The Welland Canal is a ship canal in Canada that extends from Port Weller, Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne, Ontario, on Lake Erie. As a part of the St...

 and a series of eight locks descending 326 feet (99.4 m) to Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded on the north and southwest by the Canadian province of Ontario, and on the south by the American state of New York. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, was named for the lake. In the Wyandot language, ontarío means...

 which takes about 12 hours, according to one source. Thousands of ships make this journey each year. During the 19th century, ships could enter the Buffalo River
Buffalo River (New York)
The Buffalo River is a river that empties into the eastern end of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes, by the City of Buffalo in the United States of America. This stream is called the Buffalo River only in the vicinity of the city and is known as Buffalo Creek as it flows through other parts of...

 and travel the Erie Canal
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal is a waterway in New York that runs about from Albany, New York, on the Hudson River to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The canal contains 36 locks and encompasses a total elevation differential of...

 eastwards to Albany
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

 then south to New York City along the Hudson River
Hudson River
The Hudson is a river that flows from north to south through eastern New York. The highest official source is at Lake Tear of the Clouds, on the slopes of Mount Marcy in the Adirondack Mountains. The river itself officially begins in Henderson Lake in Newcomb, New York...

. Generally there is heavy traffic on the lake except during the winter months from January through March when ice prevents vessels from traveling safely. In 2007, there was a protest against Ontario's energy policy which allows the shipping of coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 in the lake; GreenPeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 activists
Activism
Activism consists of intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing...

 climbed a ladder on a freighter and "locked themselves to the conveyer belt device that helps to unload the ship's cargo"; three activists were arrested and the ship was delayed for more than four hours, and anti-coal messages were painted on the ship.

The ship traffic in Lake Erie being the highest among the Great Lakes and roughest of the lakes has led to it having the highest number of known shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. There have been other accidents as well; for example, in 2010 according to The Star, crewmen from the freighter Hermann Schoening were sickened by phosphine gas which had been used to fumigate or control pests; rescuers took them by tugboat to receive medical attention.

Ports

The Port of Cleveland generated over $350 million and over 15 million tons of cargo in a recent year. The port will begin work on a new set of docks with more efficient railway, road, and crane access. The current port facility is unable to handle larger cargo ships, and the cranes needed to lift goods such as steel to truck trailers are insufficient to meet current shipping standards. This project is planned to start in 2010 and will be completed by 2020.

Ferryboats

Ferryboats operate in numerous places. But plans to operate a ferryboat between the U.S. port of Erie
Erie, Pennsylvania
Erie is a city located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the United States. Named for the lake and the Native American tribe that resided along its southern shore, Erie is the state's fourth-largest city , with a population of 102,000...

 and the Ontario port of Port Dover
Port Dover, Ontario
Port Dover is an unincorporated community and former town located in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada on the north shore of Lake Erie.The community was the subject of an American raid during the War of 1812, on May 14, 1814....

 ran into a slew of political problems, including security restrictions on both sides as well as additional fees required to hire border inspectors. In particular, Canada was described as having a "sticky set of laws"; the project was abandoned.

The Great Lakes Circle Tour
Great Lakes Circle Tour
The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. It consists of routes for circumnavigating the lakes, either individually or collectively.-Lake Superior Circle Tour:...

 is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. One reporter thought the roads on the Canadian side were narrower, sometimes without shoulders, but were less trafficked except for the roads around the Ontario towns of Fort Erie
Fort Erie, Ontario
Fort Erie is a town on the Niagara River in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada. It is located directly across the river from Buffalo, New York....

 and Port Colborne
Port Colborne, Ontario
Port Colborne is a city on Lake Erie, at the southern end of the Welland Canal, in the Niagara Region of southern Ontario, Canada...

. Drivers can cross from the United States to the Canadian town of Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is a Canadian city on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of Southern Ontario. The municipality was incorporated on June 12, 1903...

 by going over the Peace Bridge
Peace Bridge
The Peace Bridge is an international bridge between Canada and the United States at the east end of Lake Erie at the source of the Niagara River, about upriver of Niagara Falls. It connects the City of Buffalo, New York, in the United States to the Town of Fort Erie, Ontario, in Canada...

.

Lake Erie airspace

The Lake Erie airspace has significant air traffic as well, with occasional plane crashes.

Border crossings

Since the border between the two nations is largely unpatrolled, it is possible for people to cross undetected from one country to the other, in either direction, by boat. In 2010, Canadian police arrested persons crossing the border illegally from the United States to Canada, near the Ontario town of Amherstburg
Amherstburg, Ontario
Amherstburg is a Canadian town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario. It is approximately south of the U.S...

.

Great Lakes in General

Further reading

  • Assel, R.A. (1983). Lake Erie regional ice cover analysis: preliminary results [NOAA Technical Memorandum ERL GLERL 48]. Ann Arbor, MI: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Research Laboratories, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
  • Saylor, J.H. and G.S. Miller. (1983). Investigation of the currents and density structure of Lake Erie [NOAA Technical Memorandum ERL GLERL 49]. Ann Arbor, MI: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Research Laboratories, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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