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Could Sharks Swim to the Great Lakes? A Peek into Niagara Falls Possibilities

Ever wondered if it's possible to see a shark on your next visit to Niagara Falls - while the likelihood is pretty slim, there might be one type of shark that could potentially survive briefly in the Great Lakes.

Niagara Falls shark
Not a real photo of a shark at Niagara Falls

Marine Ecology expert Amber Peters, of Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, stated, "A shark may not thrive given the winter temperatures and lack of ample food, but if one happens to swim into the lake, it could possibly survive for a bit."

Bull sharks stand out as a rare example of a shark species that can adapt to both fresh and saltwater environments, boasting better physiological flexibility than their other 374 species. National Geographic reports that bull sharks have been located in fresh water all over the world, even in the Amazon and the Mississippi River.

Bull sharks have also reportedly been spotted in Lake Michigan, a neighbor to Lake Ontario, where Niagara Falls is located, although none of these sightings have been scientifically verified.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that sharks are likely to find the fresh waters of the Great Lakes less hospitable, as Amber Peters highlights. Predominantly due to limited food sources and companionship.

The typical freshwater prey is smaller than what sharks in the ocean usually hunt, creating an adverse effect on their diet, in addition to the stress of a completely different environment, says Peters.

More practically, it is almost impossible for a bull shark to navigate its way up to the upper Great Lakes from the Atlantic coast via the St. Lawrence River due to a sophisticated lock system and, quite frankly, the sheer challenge of ascending the majestic Niagara Falls. The electric barrier in Chicago designed to deter invasive species further makes their journey towards Lake Michigan practically impossible.

While there may be a minor possibility, visitors can rest assured that it is highly unlikely to spot any shark fins breaking the surface of the water during your Niagara Falls vacation.

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