“There’s a shark in Lake Ontario” Twitter told me last Friday. As the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, this seemed like something I should know about. When I saw the shark was spotted off Wolfe Island, my family’s home base, I was hooked.
That shark would spark more discussion about a fish in Lake Ontario than anything in decades, I figured. Sure enough, newspapers, television crews, and even a Provincial Minister reacted to the video (which has been viewed more than 500,000 times).
The shark turned out to be a hoax, but the story still fascinates me. It illustrates how little most of us actually know about the watershed.
Can you name three types of fish that live in Lake Ontario? (And no, “shark” is not one.) Most people in the watershed can’t, in my experience.
Were there ever sharks in Lake Ontario? Most people don’t know the answer to that question, either.
We’ve lost an understanding of what the watershed once looked like.
I can tell you from my time on the water that Lake Ontario is in trouble. But there is a lot that we can do to restore lost habitat, improve water quality, protect public health, and support the wildlife that surrounds us.
To start, we need to do a better job connecting people with this watershed. We all need to go outside more often. Peer under the water and look for fish. Peek under rocks and look for bugs. Get to know what lives in the world around us.
That's why I love the Lake Ontario shark. The buzz proves proves that this Great Lake can still appeal to our collective imagination. Lake Ontario is the backdrop for our lives, and for the briefest time this week, we remembered that.
Lake shark, watch your back
Gaasyendietha is a lake-dwelling fire-breathing dragon that lives in Lake Ontario, according to Seneca mythology.