Note: We've received many well-deserved comments concerning our article on whales in the Great Lakes, which was published in Michigan Studies Weekly(tm). This retraction will be published in Week 15 of Michigan Studies Weekly(tm). We would like to thank the people at the Associated Press for directing people to our site. However, this site is intended for teachers, students, and parents who have read the original article and understand the context. Everybody wants their "15 minutes of fame," but we didn't think we'd get ours this way!
A Whale of a Tale is Beached in Michigan
Last September, several of you asked us about the current event article in
week 3 of Michigan Studies Weekly(tm), "'Thar She Blows!' In Michigan?"
The article talked about whale watching in Lake Michigan. You told us that there
were no whales in Michigan. This sent us on a quest to find whales in the Great
Lakes, and what we found was quite revealing.
First, we asked some marine biologists in Michigan if they knew anything about whales in Lake Michigan. They didn't know what we were talking about. Searches on the Internet were not very fruitful. Of all the information floating around cyber space, we found only three sites on freshwater whales in the Great Lakes.
One of these sites (http://www.geocities.com/lakemichiganwhales/) was from a company that does tours to take people whale watching in Lake Michigan! We thought it was true after all!
Or was it? We contacted the company, and they told us that their web site was farcical (not real) and for entertainment. But it looked so real. It looked like a legitimate Web site.
We learned something with this experience, and we want to pass these golden nuggets of wisdom on to you, our student readers. We at Studies Weekly want this to be a lesson to you as well. Not all web sites are true, and you cannot always believe them. When researching, we must always look for a reliable site that has credentials (proof of truthfulness). Also, look for disclaimers of "entertainment purposes only." We recommended that the site above put a disclaimer on their page so that people would know it was not true. They added one after we made this suggestion.
At Studies Weekly, we usually base our writing on two or more sources of information such as credible textbooks and encyclopedias. We are especially careful to follow this practice in the lesson portion of each week. However, we do use the Internet as a potential source of information for current events. We take full responsibility for our mistake and have taken extra measures to be more careful when preparing current events in the future. The intern who was responsible for this piece was an excellent writer, and we thought she was an excellent researcher. She fell prey to what looked like a legitimate source of information. We hope that all the hard work and integrity we have put into our papers will not be discounted because of this story.
We have taken this experience as a valuable lesson to always be thorough and check the accuracy of our sources. While the Internet can be a very powerful information tool, it can also be a powerful "misinformation" tool.
Here's the truth about whales in the Great Lakes area:
The Great Lakes do not have whales in them. The last time a whale might have visited this part of the country was millions of years ago when the ancient oceans lapped over the northeastern parts of Canada and the United States.
We know that ancient whales once loved this part of the world because their petrified bones have been found here. You can learn more about prehistoric whales in Michigan at this reliable site: http://www.sentex.net/~tcc/michwls.html. Today, we don't find seafaring mammals in our Great Lakes.
Watching whales frolic in the ocean is an amazing and wonderful experience, but for that, you will need to visit the coast. It is amazing to watch these giants of the oceans work their way in pods (families) along ancient ocean pathways toward safe places to have their offspring--but not here in our Great Lakes!
Studies Weekly apologizes for misleading its readers. We would never intentionally mislead our readers or do anything to compromise our credibility.
Thank you for your interest in this story. We've been getting some
understanding and supportive comments. Here's an example:
As so many others undoubtedly have, I just visited your website from
news source I was reading regarding the story of your whales in Lake
Michigan error. I was curious to see your website, and your printed
retraction for what is certainly an embarassing mistake for you.
I wanted to write not to ridicule you but to congratulate you for
handsomely stated and very eloquent retraction. Everyone makes mistakes.
Everyone's entitled. :) You investigated the incident, discovered the
truth, and corrected yourselves, and that is an admirable thing to do,
especially these days when no one seems to remember the difference between
right and wrong anymore. I just wanted to say I thought you handled the
situation with marvelous aplomb and I thought it might be a nice thing for
you to hear, since I'm positive you're getting a lot of abuse over this.
Just hang in there. This will all be over soon, and then it will be
own inside joke to remember and really laugh over for a long time to come.
It's really a very funny thing, actually...just not so funny when everyone
is pointing and snickering. I've been there. ;) We all have!
Be safe and take care.
All the best,
Interactive Media Consultant
Clinton Twp. MI 48038