Dangerous Creatures of Lake Michigan

Ignoring zebra mussels, e coli, asian carp and the like, are there, or have there ever been, any dangerous creatures lurking in Lake Michigan? I primarily mean creatures immediately dangerous to humans, such as sharks, jellyfish, hippos or (the bogie of my childhood) bloodsuckers? How far back in time for big lake bathing to involve such interesting possibilities?

Aren’t the Great Lakes fairly new to this planet, like since the end of the last Ice Age (about 10,000 years ago)? I would imagine (without doing any research) that the indigenous species have pretty much been the same since day one.
10,000 years isn’t much time for an inland freshwater lakes’ creatures to change much.

The Great Lakes were formed within Human memory, around 10-15000 years ago.

*During the Ice Age, glaciers covered central North America as far south as Kansas and Nebraska, as far east as New York and as far west as the Northern West Coast. In some places, the glaciers were over 6,500 feet thick, almost a mile-and-a-quarter high. Through the sheer weight of the ice, coupled with the varying hardness of the rocks beneath it, the glaciers tore up the river terrain, creating natural dams and dikes that obstructed the drainage of the ancient river system. As the glacier receded from North America, the Great Lakes began to form from the melting receding glacial water, which had enlarged the original river basin. During the Ice Age, modern humans, saber tooth tigers, mammoths, and numerous other animals began to roam the Earth. In addition, the first grasslands, herbaceous plants, and forests developed.About 10,000 years ago, around the time that the glacier receded, the first inhabitants of the Great Lakes area appeared. IT is believed that these Native Americans came from South America or across the land bridge once connecting the continents of North America and Asia in Alaska. *

Gar get fairly big, maybe 70lb, and I’d hate to have one get mad at me. I have never heard of anyone getting seriously hurt by a gar- outside of s stupid fisherman and a gar in his boat, but this site
"One large freshwater fish that can bite is the gar. "

So, the Great lakes are *and were * pretty damn safe, fauna-wise.

The Winds of lake Michigan. The water tempurature gets to be in the upper 30’s in summer, except the shallow bays. Elephant seals and other larger sea mamals may ocassionaly go a ways up the St. Lawerence. The falls of Niagra has kept and anamals from getting into the Great Lakes without help from man. Yo may incounter a large sturgeon, but I have only heard of attacks on canoes in olds tales. Nothing in the newspapers that I know of. Unless you want to go with the Lake Monster sightings since the mid 1800’s. The reports are usualy of the eel type of Lake Monster.

Sturgeon can occasionally be deadly:
High-flying sturgeon causes havoc
The story is about a Gulf sturgeon, but I seem to recall similar sturgeon stories from the great lakes.

I’ve lived on Lake Michigan all my life, and my ancestors fished the lake since the late 1840’s.

In all that time, a few folks have been distressed by the swish of a large sturgeon’s tail (but they’ve been gone from the lake waters for nearly half a century) but otherwise the chief dangers of the waters here are death by hypothermia and drowning. The lake can go from calm as glass to 15+ foot swells capable of sinking the Carl Bradley in short order.

The most dangerous aquatic animal of the region in the Pleistocene was probably the Giant Beaver, but it died out about the same time the Great Lakes were forming about 10,000 years ago.

Not that even a giant beaver was probably all that dangerous, but it probably could have given you one hell of a nip.

The Northern Water Snake Nerodia sipedon is known to hang out in the islands of Western Lake Erie. (They are not aggressive, but if provoked will strike and, while not venomous, they do have an anti-coagulant in their saliva.)

I have no idea whether there are any bays on Lake Michigan where they may have also gathered. I have generally only heard them associated with Lake Erie and smaller bodies of water (ponds and swamps).

Well, there was The Creature that Ate Sheboygan

Hence why I came in here to suggest the deadly Mercotan, a truly fearsome beastie equipped with mighty claws, a terrible xmex-like snout, and a zymolosely polydactile tongue. Even neutronium armor won’t protect you for long. Fortunately, it’s fairly docile unless provoked.


Lake Ontario has both gar and dogfish – the two surviving Holostean fish, lampreys, and leeches in the marshy areas of shoreline. None of these, however, are ordinarily any sort of dangerous to humans.

When we go salmon fishing on Lake Michigan on my friends boat we often see enormous objects reflected on the sonar at depths of 250’+ which we joke about as being deadly sea creatures or possibly Chinese Communist submarines. In reality they are probably either schools of fish or just weird reflections, but you never know!

The Husband Hunting Beaver has been prowling Oak Street beach in Chicago for decades. They’re quite vicious.

Which is quite a feat, because Northern Elephant Seals are only found in the North Pacific, between about 60[sup]o[/sup]N and 20[sup]o[/sup]N, and the Southern Elephant Seal is not found north of 30[sup]o[/sup]S in the southern hemisphere! :eek: Any extinct Elephant Seals that might have inhabited the North Atlantic would have predated the canals that bypass Niagara Falls.

Maybe you mean Harbor Seals? :wink:

I’ve heard ‘Nessie’ like to vacation there in the off season.

It was the Harbor Seal.

Bolding mine.

Luckily there haven’t been any reliable reports of the Asian carp in Lake Michigan as of yet. Hopefully our good govenor will see fit to release funding to finish the gate on the Illinois river, where they are flourishing.

Is it too cold for walleye? They’ve got great big, sharp, nasty pointy teeth and could give you a hell of a bite, but I don’t know whether they live there. It’s probably too cold.

Wait - I have my fish mixed up. Am I meaning the muskie instead? I probably am. Apologies.

No such thing as too cold for wallys and their teeth are rather negligible, unless you happen to by fishing line. Well maybe arctic weather would be too cold, but walleyes thrive in places such as your own location and all through out central Candada, which if memory serves tends to get rather cold during parts of (most of) the year. :smiley:

Muskellunge also prefer the same types of deeper colder water, but reports of them attacking people are mostly exaggerated. There are stories of children and dogs being bitten, but it’s not usually a life threatening situation.

Neither of these are prevelent species in Lake Michigan.