Photo: Christian Dalbec
Lake Superior has been a source of inspiration and adventure for 10,000 years. It’s one of the defining geographic features of our region, whose vast scale inspires awe, and yet climate change threatens its health.
To learn more about the Greatest Lake Of All Time, we spoke with the GLOAT itself.
Welcome, @LakeSuperior fans! As promised, we’re joined by a special guest for a live conversation. GLOAT, are you ready?
The GLOAT is always ready!
Folks in the North are known for being humble and you’re, well...not. In many ways we’re an odd couple, so why do you think our love endures?
In the words of the great Muhammad Ali, “It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am." However, our love endures because it is the kind humans of the North who care for my watershed.
So you've never considered changing your ways, to better fit in?
No. Cold, stormy, fresh water is my way of life. Beyond that, it is on humans to protect me. The simple fact is, humans need my fresh water to survive, for my siblings and me, the opposite is not true.
You are the biggest freshwater lake by surface area. Not to stir up controversy here, but Lake Baikal holds the title for greatest volume and depth. Any beef between you two?
I don’t want to talk about this. Next question please.
Moving on… You’ve got a lot of bays. Is there a favorite?
I’m in an open relationship with several Bays, which isn’t always easy. Thankfully, when one Bay is stormy, I can visit another Bay who is feeling calm. However, there is one Bay out there that holds a special place on my shore, I won’t say it here, but she knows who she is.
Between the cold water, big waves, and rocky shoreline, you’re not exactly the most welcoming lake around. What do you say to the folks who are a little intimidated by you?
Well, there’s always Lake Nokomis.
We were recently talking with our friend @deadmanwinter of @tbtduluth about how you’ve been a source of inspiration to artists for thousands of years. Is there a song, or work of art, that’s your favorite?
Oh Dave, what a little cutie! Great question though. I have always been drawn to the work of Lawren Harris and the Group of Seven from our neighbors in Canada. As for music, I also have a sweet spot for @GaelynnLea
We tried putting “Sploosh fleck pitter whargharble. Flack flack swoosh splash dibble dopp plop burble. Bloop bloop splosh schwumpdibble sploosh gurgle?” into Google Translate, and got nothing – can you teach us a few words of lake babble?
Bloop – This is the sound of a tiny bubble coming to the surface and popping.
Shuh shuh – This is the sound of a small retreating back to the water over hundreds of tiny pebbles.
Schwumpdibble – Can only be defined by a photo.
Got it, thanks! We're still not sure what those hats we made together say, but it's a start. Next question: You’re a key ingredient for @bentpaddlebeer and countless other regional brewers. Do you drink?
H2O on the rocks, exclusively.
That brings us to an important topic: water quality. What do you want to say about generations of pollution, and the resulting buildup of microplastics that we humans are responsible for?
We are getting smarter, but we have a long way to go. Banning microplastics and straws are great steps, but there is much more we have to do. One purpose of this account is to relay the message of Great Lakes scientists to the rest of the world. Please, pick up after yourself!
Speaking of science, we've learned a lot about the impact of climate change on you from the work of researchers like Dr. Jay Austin at @UMNDuluth. You’ve been getting pretty wild the last few years, gobbling up almost 100 feet of your southern shoreline. Is this a wake-up call?
Trust me, that’s just a warning. As my water levels rise, so will the shoreline destruction. I’m trying to send a message, folks like you are listening, but we need more. And we need leadership from our elected officials who will speak up for me.
I would be remiss not to mention all the universities and countless organizations who look out for me, my wildlife, and my watershed. There are far too many to list here, but I encourage everyone to familiarize and involve themselves with local Great Lakes orgs.
We're grateful to you for using your voice to bring attention to these important issues that impact us all, so thank you. Now let’s open it up to the audience for a couple of questions. Here’s one that came in from a fan of yours: What's the largest wave you’ve ever produced?
28.8 feet on October 24, 2017, a Great Lakes record. Look for me to break 30 soon.
And here’s an important one from another admirer: What can we do to help ensure the GLOAT remains beautiful, healthy, and clean for generations to come?
I've said it countless times. Bears, eagles, and trout can't vote. It is truly on the shoulders of humans and EVERY human has a role to play in water advocacy. Contact your legislatures, support environmental orgs, and theren is no shame in picking up someone else's trash.
Last question: Sunrise from the West or sunset from the East, which is your favorite view?
Why choose one when you can have both? They’re free and they happen every single day. I haven't missed a single sunrise or sunset in 10,000 years.