Are There Sharks in The Great Lakes? Lakes Ontario MI

Do you think there are sharks in the Great Lakes? We are going to find out if it is possible for a shark to get to the Great Lakes and survive in freshwater because this question keeps popping up and it got us curious. Table of Contents Show 1 Sharks in Freshwater vs. Saltwater 2…

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Do you think there are sharks in the Great Lakes? We are going to find out if it is possible for a shark to get to the Great Lakes and survive in freshwater because this question keeps popping up and it got us curious.

There are some amazing facts about the Great Lakes region if you haven’t heard of them before. Canada is one of the largest freshwater bodies of water in the world. They are very similar to vast inland seas.

Let’s take a closer look at 5 beautiful lakes and learn some facts about sharks and their habitats.


Sharks in Freshwater vs. Saltwater


It was learned that sharks are designed to live in saltwater. Without the salt to process into their bodies, they simply can’t survive.

The bull shark is one of the notable exceptions. The shark has the ability to recycle salts and survive in a freshwater environment. Bull sharks are the only sharks that could be found in the Great Lake.

Water Temperature

sharks don’t like to live in cold waters and tend to avoid big changes in the water temperature Bull sharks are the only sharks that can survive in freshwater and if they end up in a lake, it would be in the summer.


It’s not impossible for sharks to swim from the ocean to the lake. Thousands of miles up the Amazon River and as far up the Mississippi River as Illinois are the places where sharks have been found.

The bad news is that the water at the mouth of the St. is cold. The eastern route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes is not feasible because of the Lawrence River.


The Great Lakes Are in The Spotlight

Great Lakes

It is difficult for a bull shark to get to the Great Lakes because of the diversity of their geographic location and natural characteristics.

Are There Sharks in Lake Superior?

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest and most northern of the Great Lakes. Ranked as the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, it is massive.


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It stretches from the northern shores of Ontario to the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. It has an average water temperature of 40 degrees. This makes it impossible for a shark to survive in these waters.


Are There Sharks in Lake Michigan?

Lake Michigan

The shorelines of Lake Michigan overlook the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee as well as the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

It is the largest lake in the area in any one country. Is there any chance of a shark on the loose in these waters?

An electrical barrier was installed in 2002 in the Chicago River in order to keep it out of the lake. It was built as a deterrent against invaders such as the Asian Carp. An invisible barrier would help deter sharks from entering.

The habitat for sharks on Lake Michigan is not usually suitable due to the lack of water temperatures over 70 degrees.

Phillip Willink, the senior fish biologist at Chicago’s famous and well-respected Shedd Aquarium, said that all shark reports for Lake Michigan have turned out to be hoaxes, according to an article I found.

I wanted to find out what types of shark encounters have taken place near Lake Michigan.

Are There Sharks in Lakes Ontario?

Are There Sharks in Lakes Ontario

The city of Toronto and the state of New York are in the vicinity of Lakes Ontario. Lake Ontario goes through the Saint Lawrence River to connect to the Atlantic Ocean.

The lock system is located in a building. The Lawrence seaway was made to be a barrier to sharks attempting to cross the river towards the Lakes.

A full-size shark model, which was like the biggest fish, was used to create a hoax video of a bull shark in Lake Ontario. This was done to get people interested in the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programming.


Are There Sharks in Lake Erie?

Lake Erie

Lake Erie is the southernmost lake in the Great Lakes, and it is the warmest. Buffalo and Cleveland are some of the largest lakefront cities.

There are no documented reports of sharks in this location. The book was titled “Sharks in Lake Erie” and it was written by an area resident. Six adult bull sharks were secretly introduced into Lake Erie by an eco-terrorist organization. sharks in these waters is a topic that captures the imagination of the public.

Are There Sharks in Lake Huron?

Lake Huron

It is the most easterly part of Lake Michigan and is connected to the Straits of Mackinac. It is located in the Canadian province of Ontario and the Midwestern state of Michigan. There is no evidence as to whether the dead sharks washed up on the beaches on their own or were left as a prank.

A Real-Life Fish Tale

A Real-Life Fish Tale

Early proof that a shark could make its way about 1,700 miles up into Illinois came in 1937 when two local fishermen caught a 5-foot, 85-pound bull shark in the Illinois River. Since then, there have been dams installed that would prohibit other sharks from making the same journey! Still, it showed that a bull shark could survive traveling long distances in freshwater.

Shark Attack Fact or Fiction?

Shark Attack Fact or Fiction

There is a fascinating case of a 1955 shark attack on the right leg in the Lake of one George Lawson. The Global Shark Attack File, compiled by the Shark Research Institute, documented this. When researchers attempted to verify the story, neither the victim nor his rescuer was found.

The source of the story was not immediately known. A local researcher discovered that a 1975 picture book had a reference to the 1955 attack. The publisher was a British man named Felix Dennis, who died. One of his writers recalled a lot of research but couldn’t remember whether all the story was accurate.

Jaws was a movie that scared people away from swimming in the sea because of a great white shark. There is a sense that the publisher was looking to take advantage of the furor the movie generated to sell books and may have played fast and loose with historical facts.

It was illogical to not have a record of the event in Chicago newspapers because it would have captured public attention about the safety of the swimming public. The story is still alive and well as an urban legend now.


Questionable Photos of Dead Sharks

Questionable Photos of Dead Sharks

A fisherman from Michigan found a dead juvenile black-tip shark in the lake waters in 2008. He wasn’t sure if the shark made its own way into the lake or if it had been caught elsewhere and thrown into the lake.

There was a photo of a possible shark that stirred up some excitement due to the fin breaking the water. The photographer admitted that he couldn’t be certain that it was a shark.

How Else Could Sharks Get to the Lakes?

How Else Could Sharks Get to the Lakes

The ship ballast water theory is an interesting alternative to how a bull shark could reach the waters of the Great Lakes. When there is no cargo or insufficient cargo in the holds of the container ship, they take on water in their holds to balance themselves in the water.

In a saltwater port, the shark could be pulled in with the water and eaten by other fish. The hitchhiking shark would be released along with the ballast water there.

Planned Shark Encounters

Planned Shark Encounters

Even though the prospect of running into a bull shark in the Great Lakes is less than appealing, what if you want to experience these beautiful creatures up close and personal? There are various places around the world where you can swim, snorkel, or see sharks up close.

Here are some ideas:

1. You can snorkel with sharks in the lagoons of French Polynesia, or dive into the water to eat sharks.

2. It is possible for experienced divers to enjoy shark diving off of Australia’s Rainbow Beach.

3. Game fishing, including shark fishing, is a specialty of the charter boat fleet in New South Wales, Australia, which is about 1.5 hours south of Sydney.

4. If you want a little more distance between yourself and the sharks, you can visit the Oceanarium in the Islas del Rosario in the Colombian Caribbean.

Recommended reading:

To learn more about bull sharks, check out this article from National Geographic.

This YouTube video, In Search of Canada’s rogue shark, is an interesting exploration of whether sharks, in particular bull sharks, could make the journey up the St. Lawrence River into Lake Ontario.



Do you think there are sharks in the Great Lakes? My conclusion is based on the facts, and they do not lie! The bull shark of all shark species is the only one that can survive in freshwater. Even if one made it to the Lakes, the water temperatures in some of the Lakes wouldn’t be high enough in the summer for it to survive.

It’s not impossible for a shark to travel from a saltwater source to the Lakes, but it’s difficult because of the river lock systems.

It would depend on the time of year the ship arrived to allow for warm enough water temperatures to allow the shark to live.

It’s not completely impossible that a bull shark could survive in the Great Lakes during the summer.

I think that the U.S. is a great place to live. Canadian residents should take comfort in the fact that they will not have to share their favorite swimming and boating destinations with potential visitors!

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