On Great Lakes Awareness Day, which takes place on the Monday of the first full week of May, these five gorgeous lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario — are honoured. This year, it occurs on May 1. This event is an opportunity for the United States to recognise these (mostly) bordering vast interconnected freshwater lakes. In addition to water conservation, lake preservation, and other contemporary topics, aquariums, colleges, and even museums have participated in celebrations on this day.
The annual observance began as a protest against the construction of the extremely hazardous Line 5 pipeline that traverses Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Since 2018, this day has been dedicated to raising awareness about the severe threats to the Great Lakes’ freshwater ecosystem.
The background of Great Lakes Awareness Day
The majority of people believe that Lake Erie reached its current state approximately 10,000 years ago, Lake Ontario approximately 7,000 years ago, and Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior approximately 3,000 years ago. However, lakes are ubiquitous, so these five should not have garnered special attention. The primary reason (at least initially) for the Great Lakes’ rise to prominence was their capacity to provide extremely convenient transport routes into the centre of the American continent.
Then, people began to recognise that the forests and fertile lands surrounding these lakes were ideal for agriculture, logging, and other uses. The abundant deposits of natural minerals found on the shores of these lakes, including iron, salt, copper, vast coal mines, limestone, and more, were the ideal complement. These resources, in addition to the abundance of water, made these lakes very attractive for development, and the shorelines were soon lined with enormous industries and metropolitan areas.
Obviously, the excessive human population and activity around the lakes had to have repercussions, which were not recognised until the early 1900s. A large number of beaches were forced to close in 1950 due to pollution and hazardous conditions. The fauna in the regions surrounding the lakes began to display symptoms of exposure to toxic substances. These incidents, along with river contamination and the extinction of certain aquatic species, served as a wake-up call for the authorities. In the 1970s, the governments of both the United States and Canada began collaborating on pollution management in these lakes, which traverse both countries.
In 1972, these two nations signed the ‘Great Lakes Water Quality Act’ to protect and preserve the Great Lakes. Since then, numerous government and private conservation initiatives have improved the water quality of the Great Lakes, resulting in an improvement in water quality. After many years, some fish populations have even begun to repopulate these waters. Since its inception in 2014, Great Lakes Awareness Day has successfully raised awareness. On this day, students are urged to discover solutions to pollution issues, and their projects are highlighted.
Great Lakes Awareness Day honours one of nature’s most magnificent feats: the largest collection of freshwater entities on the planet, located in North America. The collective term for Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Erie is the Great Lakes. The lakes collectively make up the largest collection of freshwater bodies on Earth, spanning 750 miles from east to west. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania. It provides more than 80 percent of the continent’s water needs.
The significance of the Great Lakes to the people of North America cannot be overstated. Great Lakes Awareness Day raises vital concerns and demands accountability from those in charge of safeguarding these majestic water bodies.
The holiday is a campaign to raise awareness of the threats facing the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes are threatened by an alarming number of issues, including pollution, climate change, carbon dioxide emissions, and invasive pipelines. With more than 140 programmes, the federal government has attempted to restore balance, but these efforts are insufficient. As the United States and Canada share the five lakes, both governments must collaborate to combat the threats to the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet.
It also explains how climate change will affect our habitat and way of life, beginning with the water bodies on Earth. Changes in the quantity and shape of algae, the most important component of the aquatic food web, indicate that the Great Lakes are already experiencing the effects of climate change.
5 FABULOUS FACTS ABOUT THE GREAT LAKES OF NORTH AMERICA
Unlike the other Great Lakes, Lake Michigan is located wholly within the United States.
It is so deep that only the Empire State Building’s antennae would be visible above the water’s surface.
Lake Erie allegedly contains a sea monster-like creature named Bessie.
They are all named after Native American tribes that once inhabited the shores, or have French names: Lake Erie for the Erie Tribe, Lake Huron for the Huron tribe, and Lake Michigan for the French form of an Ojibwa word, michigami.
The five Great Lakes, spanning 94,600 square miles, provide more than 20% of the world’s potable water.
GREAT LAKES AWARENESS DAY DATES