Lake Ontario is among the five Great Lakes from North America. Lake Ontario is surrounded has three sides in Canada and southwest by Ontario, Canada while on the south and east it has American state of New York. Ontario is Canadian province having highest population and the lake was named after this province, the name means “Lake of Shining Waters”. Primary inlet of this lake is the Niagara River coming from Lake Erie. Lake Ontario is the last part in the Great Lakes chain, serving as the outlet to Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River. Today, the lake is the home as well source for drinking water for 9 million people who live in Ontario, Canada as well as New York State in USA.
Lake Ontario is situated towards the easternmost of the Great Lakes, being the smallest in surface area around 7,340 sq miles but it exceeds Lake Erie in terms of water volume which is 1,639 km3. This way it is stands at 14 th place among the large lakes globally. By including the islands, the lake has 712 miles of shoreline. Being the last lake in the hydrologic chain of Great Lakes, Lake Ontario keeps 243 feet as the lowest mean surface elevation of all the lakes above sea level. It is 326 feet lower than its neighbor upstream. It has maximum length at 193 statute miles while it has maximum width as 53 statute miles Average depth of this lake 283 feet having maximum depth of 802 feet.
The drainage of Lake Ontario covers area as big as 24,720 square miles. Water levels keep changing both within the year because of water input seasonal changes and among years because of trends in its precipitation. These fluctuations in water level are an integral and natural part of lake ecology. This produces and maintains extensive area under wetlands. Importantly the lake has freshwater fishery, although negatively affected
Baymouth bars have been built because of currents and winds that have created lot many sheltered harbors and lagoons. Many of these are near Prince Edward County, Ontario and also towards the shores towards east. These bars themselves are sometimes reason for the sites of long beaches, like Sandy Island Beach State Park and Sandbanks Provincial Park. Sand bars of this type are usually associated with other large wetlands, supporting several of animal and plant species and also providing critical rest areas for some type of migratory birds. On its north shore Presqu’ile is particularly important in this regard. A unique feature of this lake is its having Z-shaped Bay of Quinte that is separating Ontario mainland from Prince Edward County. Near Trenton; this important feature is supporting several wetlands as well as aquatic plants and associated fisheries.
Major rivers that drain into Lake Ontario are Don River, Niagara River; Humber River, the Cataraqui River; Trent River; the Oswego River; the Genesee River; Salmon River and the Black River.
Two major features of the lake are its enormous size and its connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. These make Lake Ontario to be among the ecological wonders. Whole of water in the Great Lakes flows through Lake Ontario. Fish also travel back and forth to fresh water lake from the ocean. That is why there are different part of the lake that offer unique and different habitats, like dunes, wetlands, forest and even rocky cliffs.
During 1800s in past, the lake had pollution problems and then in years and that really effected fish production. Later when some dams were constructed on the St. Lawrence River, those dams kept restricting passage of fish like the sturgeon and eel that used to migrate between the ocean and the lake in very large numbers. Such human interventions have caused extinction of at least fifteen of the species introduced in past 200 years. Quite limited restoration efforts are done around the lake butthat brought very little natural biodiversity.
During the 1980s, there have been “Areas of Concern” regarding 43 communities along and on Great Lakes because of degradation of environment. Some of the Lake Ontario Areas are: Eighteen Mile Creek, Metro Toronto, Hamilton Harbor, Oswego River, Bay of Quinte, Port Hope Harbor and Rochester Embayment. The threats mainly are because of rapid urban development, sewage and storm water and generation of electricity. Though water-keeper work hard to protect and restore the lake as the effort is critical for community survival. Figures show that 9 million people simply rely on the lake for their drinking water. 25% of Canadians are living in the watershed. These bodies of water are very important to people, which is why working hard to ensure that Lake Ontario waters remain drinkable, swimmable and fishable for everyone.
Some of the Quick Facts
• The lake provides drinkable water to around 9 million human beings.
• There are more Canadians living in the lake’s watershed compared to any other watershed in whole of area.
• This lake does not reach freezing point in full because of its large volume and depth. The whole surface of this lake has frozen at least 5 times, it happened last in 1934.
• Lake Ontario is blessed with “seiche” phenomenon which is a natural rhythmic motion due to which water sloshes making waves back and forth once in 11 minutes.
• Glaciers in north have formed the lake from 10,000 years and 14,000 years ago.
• This lake is part of famous 5 Great Lakes having around 21% of the global freshwater surface. • The lake stands at 14th place among the largest lakes.
• Lake Ontario is the passage through which water from all Great Lakes flows through before getting into the Atlantic Ocean.
• Flow of water needs around 6 years to flow through this lake to reach St. Lawrence River
• Among the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario happens to be the most threatened one. • Famous Niagara Falls also pours into this lake.
• Huron and Iroquois have been living on the lake for thousands of years much before before Europeans invaded the area.
• “Lake Ontario” is from Iroquois language meaning “lake of shining waters”.
• Fishing for commercial gains was at peak in the late years of 1880s. Now almost 130 years later, several NGOs and government are continuously working hard for repairing and restoring lake’s old and native fish populations.
• The lake is situated partly in USA and partly in Canada.
• Great Lakes used to have 150 species of different fish.
• American Eel used to be the most common fish in this lake.
• Lake Ontario has more than 100 beaches around it.