Lake Huron is one of the five Great Lakes of North America.
It is shared on the east by the Canadian province of Ontario and on the west by the state of Michigan in the United States.
By surface area, Lake Huron is the second-largest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of 59,588 square kilometers (23,007 square miles) — making it the third-largest fresh water lake on Earth and the fourth-largest lake, if the Caspian Sea is counted as a lake.
The surface of Lake Huron is 176 meters (577 feet) above sea level.
The lake’s average depth is 59 meters (195 feet), while the maximum depth is 229 meters (750 feet).
It has a length of 332 kilometers (206 miles) and a greatest breadth of 295 kilometers (183 miles).
Lake Huron has the largest shoreline length of any of the Great Lakes. The shoreline is 6,157 kilometers (3,827 miles), taking into account its 30,000 islands.
Of the lake’s 30,000 islands, Manitoulin Island, which sits in the Georgian Bay, is the most prominent island is the world’s largest freshwater island.
Georgian Bay is the largest bay on Lake Huron; the bay is 80% of the size of Lake Ontario, and is sometimes called the sixth great lake. It is large enough to be among the world’s 20 largest lakes.
The Bruce Peninsula, which divides Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron, is home to Flowerpot Island, famous for its “flowerpot” or “sea stack” rock formations–unusual pillars of limestone shaped by years of erosion by wind, rain and lake spray.
Just off the Michigan shore in Lake Huron is Turnip Rock, a large turnip-shaped rock-island. The unique shape is the result of thousands of years of erosion by storm waves.
With 14 kilometers of white sand, Wasaga Beach, is the largest freshwater beach in the world. It is located along Georgian Bay.
It was the first of the Great Lakes to be explored by the Europeans in the 1600s. The French explorers Samuel de Champlain and Étienne Brûlé reached Georgian Bay in 1615.
The name of the lake is derived from early French explorers who named it for the Huron people inhabiting the region.
Lake Huron is connected to Lake Michigan by the eight kilometer (5 miles) wide Straits of Mackinac. Because, hydrologically, the two lakes are the same body of water, they could technically be considered one lake–making Lake Michigan-Huron (at 117,000 square kilometers (45,174 square miles)) the largest freshwater lake in the world.
There have been more than 1,000 shipwrecks on the lake, with many still at the bottom.
Located at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, Fathom Five National Marine Park–the first park of its kind in Canada– offers visitors the opportunity to see 22 underwater shipwrecks, either by diving or on a glass-bottomed boat.
Lake Huron was hardest hit in the deadliest and most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the Great Lakes. On November 9, 1913, a great storm in Lake Huron sank ten ships and more than twenty were driven ashore. The storm, which raged for 16 hours, killed 235 seamen.
Lake Huron doesn’t freeze over very often–on average, only once per decade. In 2014, more than 95 per cent of the lake was covered in ice–the first time this has happened since 2003.
Lake Huron has a lake retention time of 22 years, which is the measurement of time that water spends in a particular lake.
While it receives water from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, Lake Huron drains into Lake Erie through the St. Clair River-Lake St. Clair-Detroit River system.
The waters of the lake are relatively unpolluted; commercial and sport fishing is important, and several resorts are located along the lake shore.
Important cities on Lake Huron include: Goderich, Sarnia, Bay City, Alpena, Rogers City, Cheboygan, Tobermory, Sauble Beach, Saugeen Shores, St. Ignace, and Port Huron.
The Lake Huron basin is heavily forested, sparsely populated, scenically beautiful, and economically dependent on its rich natural resources.
According to an Ojibwa legend, a water monster named Mishebeshu (“giant lynx”) lives in an underwater den near the mouth of the Serpent River at the north end of Lake Huron.
Goderich Mine is the largest underground salt mine in the world. Part of it runs underneath Lake Huron, more than 500 meters (1,640 feet) underground.
There are massive sinkholes in Lake Huron that have high amounts of sulfur and low amounts of oxygen, almost replicating the conditions of Earth’s ancient oceans 3 million years ago. Unique ecosystems are contained within them.
Ice glaciers melting at the end of the latest Ice Age were responsible for the formation of Lake Huron and all of the other Great Lakes.