Probably sharks, probably piranha, definitely Snakehead, definitely Lamprey in Lake Michigan.
You know why the news is so focused on informing you about the threat of the Asian Carp to Lake Michigan? Because there is much, MUCH scarier shit in those waters. There’s fish in there that make the Asian Carp look like a Petsmart Betta fish. Here’s a list of 4 scary-ass fish: 2 that are confirmed, and 2 that are likely, to be found in Lake Michigan near Chicago.
Okay, so there have been no official reports of Piranha in Lake Michigan, but they turn up in little lakes around the Midwest all the time. Most recently, a pacu (a close relative of piranha) was caught in an Illinois lake.
They likely originated as aquarium pets that owners let into the lakes for some open-water exercise. How else do you ‘walk’ a fish? I’ll admit, I’m guilty of a few of these cases. I feel bad seeing my piranha in their tiny little tank all day. Sometimes I fill up the bathtub and let them play around, and sometimes I’ll take them down to the lake for an evening swim. But I always keep them on a leash and clean up after them, like any good piranha owner. And I’ve only lost 2 of them in Lake Michigan (due to a small leash malfunction which has since been fixed). You didn’t read it here, but yea, there “might” be a couple of ‘em in Lake Michigan. They’re names are Pee-wee and Mike (Mike is the bigger one), and if you’ve seen
them, get a hold of me ASAP.
Snakehead are only THE MOST BADASS fish ever to grace the depths (and shores) of Lake Michigan… And I say ‘shores’ only because they have the ability to breathe out of water for 7 days… And I say they can breathe out of water for 7 days because they can use their fins to ‘walk’ from one body of water to another as they devour the entire population before moving on to the next lake… And I say they are badass because they can grow up to 3 feet long.
3.) Bull Shark
The Conservation Report says that, “Bull sharks are not restricted to saltwater. Due to its physiology, the bull shark is highly adaptable to freshwater conditions and have been recorded far into the Mississippi River.”
But just how far up the Mississippi River can a Bull Shark make it? So far the
record is a 5-foot Bull Shark caught in Alton, Illinois (just outside of St. Louis) and there are reports of a few Bull Sharks making it as far north as Minnesota. Its unlikely that a Bull Shark could make it much further toward Lake Michigan. They don’t really like water temperatures below 68 degrees, and there are several locks and barriers a shark would have to go through. However, as Global Warming takes its toll, we might be seeing more and more of these rare cases in the next few years. Lake Michigan surface temperatures reached almost 80 degrees in summer 2012.
Sea Lamprey are also ocean fish that have learned to adapt to fresh water, leading to massive infestations in the great lakes in the 1950s.
The sea lamprey is described as “an agressive parasite — equipped with a tooth-filled mouth that flares open at the end of its eel-like body. When attacking, the lamprey fastens onto its prey and rasps out a hole with its rough tongue.” It looks like something out of Star Wars, am I right? Scary stuff.
Sure I can deal with a little Piranha bite (they can get a bit nippy when I try to give mine their bath), but it seems like a lamprey bite might sting a bit more- “An anticoagulant in the lamprey’s saliva keeps the wound open for hours or weeks, until the lamprey is satiated or the host fish [or human] dies.”