Test Your Great Lakes Water Knowledge

We all know that the Great Lakes are a magnificent freshwater system, the largest in the world. But are you intimately familiar with their unique qualities?

The 10 true-or-false questions below give you an opportunity to determine whether you are a Superior Scholar or a mere landlubber. How will you do?

True or false?:

  1. The Great Lakes have tides.
  2. The Great Lakes are geologically ancient.
  3. There are six Great Lakes.
  4. The Great Lakes are “unsalted and shark free,” as the popular vehicle decal says.
  5. Lake Erie is home to a serpent that has spawned not only a legend, but also governmental efforts to respond to it.
  6. There is more of Michigan underwater than there is of Indiana above water.
  7. Great Lakes fish take antidepressants.
  8. Pirates found in the Great Lakes have an unusual, perhaps embarrassing, physical feature.
  9. It is said that baseball player Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run into Lake Ontario. 
  10. A drop of water that was in the far northern reaches of Lake Superior during the administration of U.S. President Andrew Jackson, who served from 1829 to 1837, may just now be exiting the Great Lakes system through the St. Lawrence River.


  1. True. But the tides are almost imperceptible, a matter of several inches, leading to their official classification as non-tidal.
  2. False. The Great Lakes as we know them formed after the last glaciation beginning approximately 20,000 years ago, the blink of an eye on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old.
  3. False (but there’s a caveat). Conventionally, there are five—Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. But there is also a “sixth Great Lake” in that the volume of groundwater in the Great Lakes watershed is equal to Lake Huron. Further, some argue that Lake St. Clair or even Lake Champlain should be considered a sixth Great Lakes.
  4. False. Although there are definitely no sharks, usage of road salt in the Great Lakes and provinces is driving up chloride levels in some of the Great Lakes. Levels do not yet exceed safe levels, however.
  5. True, but it’s not Bessie, the legendary Erie sea monster. It’s the Lake Erie watersnake, which is rebounding from threatened status thanks to restoration efforts.
  6. True. Michigan’s boundaries contain 38,000 square miles of submerged lands in the Great Lakes. The entire area of Indiana is approximately 36,500 square miles.
  7. True, although it’s not because they’re depressed. Pharmaceuticals like Prozac are largely untreated by sewage plants and are found in many fish species.
  8. True. The pirate perch, which is found in other watersheds as well, has an anus that shifts its position on the body to the front as it matures.
  9. True, although that’s a trick answer. It is said that the Babe hit his first professional home run into Lake Ontario, but no one knows for sure.
  10. True. Lake Superior has a retention time of 194 years.

One comment on “Test Your Great Lakes Water Knowledge

  1. Barbara Stamiris on

    OMG that Great Lakes quiz was more fun than I ever expected! Try it, you might learn something like I did.
    Thank you to the brilliantly quirky mind that put that one together. 💦 🌎 💦


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