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Grand Haven students participate in annual fishing event
Grand Haven Tribune (5/15)
In Michigan, Grand Haven Area Public Schools partnered with a nonprofit organization called Pursuing a Dream to give about 300 students with special needs the opportunity to fish and enjoy the outdoors.

NYPA funding aids three St. Lawrence River projects
Watertown Daily Times (5/10)
The St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund has provided funding for three projects that support environmental education in and around the riverís ecosystem.

Lake Michigan Academy students learn from 'Salmon in School' project
MLive (5/9)
About 100 schools throughout Michigan are selected to take part in the Lake Michigan Academy program that aims to help stock local rivers and support fishing as a leisure activity.

Huron Perth students find Lake Huron threats
Blackburn News (5/1)
Nearly 60 high school students from the public and separate boards in Huron and Perth counties spent one day at the Oakwood Inn in Grand Bend, Ontario, where they were learning about the environmental threats and challenges to Lake Huron.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
Great Lakes Ports & Shipping

table of contents
An efficient, safe alternative
The ships
Cargoes: Iron ore and more
Travel between ports
To the ocean and beyond
References and more information

The Great Lakes, often referred to as the "fourth seacoast," are home to the U.S.-Flag fleet and the Canadian-Flag fleet. In addition, dozens of international vessels regularly travel through the Great Lakes, visiting port communities along the way. These vessels, known as "salties" because of their saltwater origin, come from all over the world and have sailors from many different lands.

The U.S.-Flag fleet includes more than 60 carriers and tankers, as well as dozens of smaller tug and barge units. These vessels team up to haul upwards of 125 million tons of cargo during a typical 10-month shipping season. That's almost half a ton for every person living in the United States! Iron ore, coal and limestone are the primary commodities carried; other cargoes include cement, salt, sand, grain and liquid-bulk products.

An efficient and safe alternative to rail, road or air
Several Great Lakes ports are closer to European markets than East Coast or Gulf ports, which saves shippers time and money. For example, to travel from Baltimore, Maryland, to Liverpool, England, is 3,936 miles (6,334 km). Via the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, ships can reach Detroit, Mich., by covering only 3,673 miles (5,911 km).

Ship travel saves energy, too, in comparison to trains, trucks and airplanes. A ship can move a ton of freight up to 500 miles on one gallon of fuel. A single 1,000-foot laker can carry as much cargo as six 100-car unit trains, which makes ships a very economical way to haul bulk quantities.

Fuel efficiency also translates into fewer air emissions than produced by trucks or trains. Ship transport is safer, too; serious accidents involving large cargo vessels are rare. Occasionally vessels become grounded but these incidents are usually much less serious than comparable railroad or truck accidents.

Shipping on the Great Lakes also provides many jobs for the region. In fact, more than 60,000 U.S. and Canadian jobs are directly dependent on cargo movements. In addition, hundreds of thousands of other jobs, many in the manufacturing sector, are tied to the maritime system. An abundance of steel mills were built along the shores of the Great Lakes and connecting channels because of the convenient, low-cost delivery of the industry's raw materials: iron ore, coal and limestone. Other manufacturing enterprises that use steel, such as automobile assembly in Detroit, Mich., also became popular and remain a hallmark of the region's economy.

Read on to learn more about the ships that travel the Great Lakes, what they carry and their ports of call.

Collage photos courtesy Great Lakes Commission; stack insignia courtesy Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping; base map courtesy St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation

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