|Lake Huron was scowered out by ice age glaciers and is the second largest Great Lake by surface area (behind Lake Superior) and the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world. It is roughly the size of West Virginia. Joined with Lake Michigan by the Straights of Mackinaw, these two bodies of water are hydrologically inseparable.
It has the longest shoreline of any of the Great Lakes, most of which is wilderness.
Among the 30,000 islands which dot this great inland sea is Manitoulin Island; the largest freshwater island in the world.
Georgian Bay (Canada) and Saginaw Bay (Michigan) are the two largest bays on the Great Lakes.
Huron receives her flow from both Lake Superior through the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie and Lake Michigan through the deep, wide Straights of Mackinaw. Water flows through Lake Huron (retention time of 22 years) much more quickly than through either Lake Superior (191 years) or Lake Michigan (99 years).
Huron was the first of the Great Lakes to be discovered by European explorers.
Shipwrecks are scattered throughout the lake, with five underwater preserves in Michigan and a national park in Ontario designated to protect the most historically significant shipwrecks.
The Lake Huron basin is heavily forested, sparsely populated, scenically beautiful, and economically dependent on its rich natural resources.
The waters of the lake are relatively unpolluted; commercial and sport fishing is important, and several resorts are located along the lake shore. Major salt deposits are worked at the south end of the lake.
Lake Huron is home to a rich variety of fish and plant life. Among the species in the lake are carp , salmon, pan fish, bass, sturgeon, muskellunge, pike, walleye, herrings, alewives, smelt, perch and catfish.
BREADTH: 183 miles / 245 km.
AVERAGE DEPTH: 195 ft. / 59 m.
MAXIMUM DEPTH: 750 ft. / 229 m.
VOLUME: 850 cubic miles / 3,540 cubic km. – To help put this volume into perspective; if the water in Lake Huron was spread out evenly it would cover the contiguous 48 United States to a depth of 18 inches (45.7 centimeters)
WATER SURFACE AREA: 23,000 sq. miles / 59,600 sq. km.
TOTAL DRAINAGE BASIN AREA: 51,700 sq. miles / 134,100 sq. km.
DRAINAGE BASIN AREA BY STATE/PROVINCE:
Michigan: 16,100 sq mi; 41,700 sq km
SHORELINE LENGTH (including islands): 3,827 miles / 6,157 km.
ELEVATION: 577 ft. / 176 m.
OUTLET: St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair, into the Detroit River, through Lake Erie, over Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario and finally emptying out into the St. Lawrence Seaway and the North Atlantic Ocean.
RETENTION/REPLACEMENT TIME: 22 years
NAME: Since its French discoverers knew nothing as yet of the other lakes, they called it La Mer Douce, the “sweet sea” or “fresh-water sea”. A Sanson map in 1656 refers to the lake as Karegnondi, simply meaning “lake” in the Petan Indian language. Eventually the French called it Lac de Hurons (Lake of the Hurons).