NASA View of the 5 Great Lakes

map of Great Lakes

Freshwater seas.


Podcast: The Dynamic Great Lakes

Great Lakes Stressed

July 8, 2014

National Geographic Maps  Click the link for a National Geographic article and maps.


Wind Turbines in the Lakes

August 14, 2012

Hiking Isle Royale is a great experience.

The Dynamic Great Lakes Blog

Greenstones, Wolves, Moose and Thimbleberries

On the map, Isle Royale looks like the eye in the wolf’s head shape of Lake Superior, with Duluth its snout and the Keweenaw Peninsula its mouth. It is precious since there are few places left on this planet that have been preserved like this. It is unique; some of the oldest rocks on this planet form Isle Royale, its plants and animals and minerals. There are copper mining pits on the Island where native Americans dug rich veins of copper long ago.

When I think of Isle Royale, I think of Eden, a place away from cars and the noise of machinery. There is no traffic on Isle Royale; only hiking trails. The sounds of Isle Royale are of bugling moose, the silvery songs of northern songbirds, the lapping of waves on rocks and the quavering voices of loons. Sometimes there is the slap…

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updated fourth edition

Now available on Kindle

To learn about the Great Lakes and their interesting features, The Dynamic Great Lakes is for you.

Now updated in a fourth edition, Amazon has made the book available on the Kindle e reader as well as in paperback. The book is concise and suitable for all readers.

Map of Great Lakes

July 25, 2011

The Depths of the Great Lakes
This NOAA map shows the depths of all five Great Lakes. Lake Superior some believe is shaped like a wolf’s head with Isle Royale the eye. It is the largest and deepest. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are the same sea level. Lake Erie waters take a tumble over Niagara Falls and the water arrives in Lake Ontario and then down the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean. Read more about these fresh water seas in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes available from many online bookstores as well as the publisher Only $9.95 + shipping for the new updated edition.

A critically acclaimed non-fiction bookOne of the first reviewers of my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes was Norman Goldman. Here is his review:

The Dynamic Great Lakes

Many of us know very little about the five Great Lakes other than perhaps being able to name them. As Barbara Spring states in her introduction to her outstanding primer The Dynamic Great Lakes they are “a flowing river of seas left behind by Ice Age glaciers and are nearly twenty percent of the world’s supply of fresh surface water; the world’s greatest freshwater system.”

The ecosystem of this great body of water is very complex and unfortunately due to pollution and the fallout of modern industry and agriculture they have gone through a gradual transformation.

One of the unique characteristics of this compact book is that it is written in a language devoid of esoteric explanations. The eight chapters of the book reflect the author’s teaching and journalistic aptitudes in knowing how to unravel the mystery of the Great Lakes and the many painful dangers it has faced and continues to face.

Each of the five Lakes is introduced with a brief synopsis of important elements distinguishing one from the other such as: elevation, length, breadth, average depth, maximum depth, volume, water area, retention time, population and outlet. From this point of departure the author deals with the various changes that have taken place as well as the various major issues affecting the Lakes.

There are also brief descriptions of the various animal life found in each of the Lakes and how they have been affected by pollution and the appearance of harmful species, such as the Lamprey Eel.

However, we are also reminded throughout the reading of the book that “people power” can have an effect and if we band together and make our voices heard we could exert influence in reversing some of the harmful trends that have caused ecological disaster.

For example we are apprised of the situation that occurred in relation to Lake Erie. In 1969 a tributary river of Lake Erie, the Cayahoga, caught on fire due to being heavily coated with oil and debris. As a result, the Federal Water Quality Administration launched a one and half billion dollar municipal sewage treatment program for the Erie Basin which included the five surrounding states: Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana.

The conclusion of the book most appropriately reminds us that: “we are all challenged to use our knowledge, creativity and common sense to keep the Great Lakes great. Can you think of ways to think globally and act locally?” We are also warned “life on earth is only possible as long as our limited life support system works.”

Copyright 2002, Originally published at

the five Great Lakes

Satellite View of the Great Lakes

Satellite pictures of the Great Lakes show their immense size.  Their waters flow from the highest, Lake Superior down into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  These are called the upper Great Lakes.  From there to the shallowest Lake Erie and then over Niagara Falls into deep Lake Ontario.  The water then flows toward the Atlantic through the St. Lawrence River.

Read about these freshwater lakes in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

a critically acclaimed book

20% of the world's fresh surface waterThe Great Lakes are a marvelous freshwater system shared by the United States and Canada.  Only Lake Michigan is entirely within the United States.

Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are all connected and have their outlet through the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Many shipwrecks lie on the bottoms of these powerful lakes.  The cold fresh water preserves them but since zebra mussels entered the lakes accidentally, these shipwrecks are encrusted with them.  It is illegal for divers to take things from these shipwrecks.

There are places where glass bottomed boats will take tourists to see what lies below.


February 3, 2010

The Dynamic Great Lakes by Barbara Spring

Interview from the Book Review Cafe

Barbara Spring has written a non fiction book about changes in the Great Lakes system: The Dynamic Great Lakes  She is an environmentalist and a poet.  The Wilderness Within is a book of nature poetry and a few travel essays.  Sophia’s Lost and Found is a book of poetry. 

Lisa: Could you tell a little about yourself? Where you grew up, how you started writing?

Barbara: I was born in New York City, spent some growing up years in Columbia, Missouri, then my family moved to East Lansing, Michigan when I was 10. After high school I graduated from Michigan State University with a major in English. I always liked to write. I became an English major after taking a poetry class at Michigan State from the Poet Laureate of Canada, A.J.M. Smith. I have taken many post graduate courses in outdoor education, art, photography, and I have studied writing with Wm. Stafford, Robert Bly, Nancy Willard, N. Scott Momaday and many other notable writers.

Lisa:  Why did you write The Dynamic Great Lakes?

Barbara:  I could not find an up to date book on the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters, dunes, wetlands and other features. I could not find any book for the general public about the interconnected Great Lakes. So I wrote one.

Lisa: Who were your mentors?

Barbara: My first mentor was my father, E. P. Reineke, a research scientist at M.S.U. in the physiology dept. He did some important original research there. I learned to love and appreciate nature from him. My husband, Norm Spring has been a long time outdoorsman and conservationist. I have learned a great deal about nature and the democratic process from him.

Lisa: What are some books that have changed your life?

Barbara: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson opened my eyes to what we are doing to the environment. After reading the book and recommending it to my husband, we both became activists on behalf of the environment before the first Earth Day in 1970. I also loved A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. I required my students to read it when I taught writing classes at Grand Valley State University.

Lisa: Who do you think would enjoy reading this book?

Barbara: I wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes for a general audience.

I spoke to school children this week. I opened my talk with a space photo of Planet Earth and explained that the water they saw was 98% salt water-only about 2% is freshwater. “Dang!” said a kid in surprise.

The audience for my book is really adults, but school age kids will find it interesting, too. It is an up to date reference to the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters: their fishes, dunes, wetlands, seasonal changes and changes caused by people. The Dynamic Great Lakes will be an eye-opener for anyone.

Lisa: Why is the Dynamic Great Lakes an important book?

Barbara: The Great Lakes are important but often misunderstood. They are about 20% of all the fresh surface water on this planet. People need to understand their dynamics in order to make sound decisions about them. Recently a grassroots movement in Michigan blocked oil companies from further oil exploration under Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The risk of polluting the lakes with oil and noxious gases was intolerable. There will be more schemes that threaten the health of the Great Lakes. Armed with knowledge, people will demand the right thing of their government. They will also be careful of what they do in their personal decisions. The lakes’ water is low this year, but it will rise again. People who know this is a natural cycle will not build too close to the water.

Lisa: Why is this book a good choice for Earth Day?

Barbara: The book encourages people to think globally and act locally. Everything is connected to everything else. This means that what we burn, what we release in the water and land and what we eat are all connected. We often forget that we are part of the whole and flowing web of life. Our actions will affect us now and in the future.

Lisa:How is your book different from other books about the Great Lakes?

Barbara:I limited my topic to changes in the Great Lakes, both through natural forces and through changes caused by people. There have been a great many changes and I believe people will be interested in learning about the Pacific salmon planted in the lakes to feed on the pesky alewives that invaded them through the canals around Niagara Falls. They will be interested in other exotic species such as the zebra mussels and how they got into all five Great Lakes.

Lisa:How did you research the book?

Barbara:I began with observations. We live within view of Lake Michigan. I can observe the change of seasons and what kinds of fish are being caught. I have also observed all the other lakes and their connecting waters. I then set out to find out authoritative information about the lakes by interviewing experts. The book is interdisciplinary. I interviewed a geologist, fish biologists, and naturalists. I asked them for good sources in print. I went out on Grand Valley State University’s research vessel, Angus to see what research was being done. I enjoyed working on the Dynamic Great Lakes because there was always something new.

Lisa:What else have you written?

Barbara: As a journalist, I have written articles for the Grand Rapids Press, a major newspaper in West Michigan. These articles were about travels, profiles of interesting people, and outdoor subjects. I also have had articles published in Michigan Out of Doors magazine, Michigan Natural Resources magazine, Muskegon Magazine, Field & Stream and many others.

I have also published two books of poetry: The Wilderness Within and Sophia’s Lost and Found:

Poems of Above and Below.

Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie

December 12, 2009

  The heart shaped lake is Lake St. Clair and is not considered one of the Great Lakes although it is part of the Great Lakes water system.  It is connected to Lake Erie and the marshes in this area make it a very productive part of the Great Lakes–a nursery for fish, birds and insects.  Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five Great Lakes and it is a warm water fishery.  Read more about the Great Lakes system in my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.  a critically acclaimed non-fiction book