Why Does Some Of The Internet Believe There Are Orcas In Lake Michigan?
Just to throw out a quick spoiler alert for this post. No, there are no orca whales living in Lake Michigan currently, or ever in the lake's current geography.
I came across this tweet Monday morning and was immediately surprised that there were orcas in Lake Michigan.
I checked the date to make sure it wasn't an April Fool's joke and then took a quick trip to the google machine.
This is where it gets a little sticky. There seems to have been a variety of hoaxes over the years claiming orca sightings in Lake Michigan and the whole culture has sort of grown a life of its own.
The first "hoax" came in 1985 when a ship named the Charlotte Ann announced they would be hosting a Great Lakes Whale Watch. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the plight of the world's whales in a tongue-in-cheek manner. The Chicago Tribune covered the story in a similar winking fashion, the tone of which eluded some of their more astute readers.
[Whales] migrate. Some go to Lake Superior. Some spend winters in the Caribbean. None go to Lake Erie; after all, whales are intelligent animals.
It's a well done article that obviously tested the reading comprehension in more than just a few.
In 2002 a newspaper that is distributed to teachers in Michigan reported the story above, or another like it as fact. I can't find any links to the story (it may have been deleted), but could find two other stories that reference it.
In the retraction to the story they cited the confusion between a legitimate site and a humor site.
A retraction was later posted on the company's Web site with an explanation that the false information came from a different Internet site intended as a joke... 'Not all Web sites are true, and you cannot always believe them. When researching, you should always look for a reliable site that has credentials.
Obvious to anyone today but the internet was a much more honest place 20 years ago. i understand the confusion.
To further the confusion, the town of Traverse City, Michigan has turned "Whale Watching" on Lake Michigan into one of their city's advertising campaigns.
There's even a fake video where this old guy gets to cosplay as Captain Ahab and pretends to charter whale watching trips.
Bottom line is this. There are no whales in Lake Michigan. The internet really wants to try to confuse you on this one but don't let it.
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