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What specific species of wildlife are being endangered by the pollution of the Great Lakes?
from Julie in Chicago, Illinois, Age 13

Pollution in the Great Lakes affects the water itself as well as the life in and around the water. This includes the lives of many species of wildlife, not to mention humans beings. The decline in health of the wildlife in the Great Lakes region is a testament to our duty to clean up the Great Lakes and keep them clean.

Every animals is vulnerable to pollutants, but some moreso than others. Amphibians, such as frogs, are especially at risk from pollution because they have thin skins and chemicals can pass through this barrier with ease. Animals that are higher in the food chain are exposed to even greater numbers of toxic chemicals due to their diets.

Heavy metals (like mercury and lead) and human-made organic chemicals (like pesticides) bioaccumulate as they move up the food chain, resulting in tumors, deformities, and death for many animals, including tadpoles and frogs, old lake trout, herring gulls, mallard ducks, Canadian geese, loons, cranes, eagles, and wolves.

Related references:
GLIN: Endangered Species in the Great Lakes Region
National Wildlife Federation (NWF): Effects Of Water Pollution On Wildlife
Environmental Education Resources (EE-Link): Great Lakes-Big Rivers Endangered Species

Thank you for your question!

Answered on June 19, 2001

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