Shedd's Great Lakes Program

Shedd Aquarium is committed to protecting the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes are among the world’s most precious natural resources. If you live in the Great Lakes basin, you’re one of the 36 million people in the United States and Canada that depend on the lakes for drinking water, employment and recreation. More than 3,500 plant and animal species—some found nowhere else on the planet—also call the Great Lakes home. Shedd Aquarium is committed to protecting the Great Lakes for the people and wildlife that rely on them – the stakes are high.

At Shedd, we inspire our guests to make a difference in their backyards and across the basin to ensure a bright future for the Great Lakes. Our At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit connects our guests with over 60 species, from prehistoric sturgeon to invasive sea lamprey. We offer exciting programs and immersive experiences that invite people to explore and restore Great Lakes ecosystems. Shedd scientists conduct field research that helps inform effective management of native and invasive wildlife. Our dedicated staff and in-house experts collaborate with other Great Lakes organizations and work with leaders in the Great Lakes community—scientists, educators, government officials, businesspeople, citizens—to forge solutions for tomorrow’s conservation challenges. We strive to be responsible stewards of Great Lakes resources, with ambitious goals to reduce the environmental footprint of our daily operations.

We hope you will join us in celebrating and caring for our magnificent and precious Great Lakes. Read on to learn more about key lake issues and stay connected with the conservation conversation:

Key Issues in Great Lakes Conservation
Shedd’s Great Lakes Program focuses on key environmental issues that affect the wildlife and people in the Great Lakes region - from algae to spruce, and minnows to moose.

Invasive Species
Invasive species threaten Great Lakes residents—wildlife and human—by disrupting the complex ecosystems we all depend on. At Shedd, we feature several invasive species, such as Asian carp and round gobies, in our At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit to highlight how everyone can help prevent the spread of non-native species. We also conduct field research and partner with universities and organizations to inform proactive management of these problematic species.

Asian Carp – What’s all this fuss about a fish?
You may have heard about Asian carp, or even seen videos of them leaping high out of the water. Large and notoriously disruptive to aquatic ecosystems in the Midwest, Asian carp are one of the biggest challenges facing the Great Lakes today. Learn more about Asian carp by visiting our special Asian carp webpage, watch the videos below or plan a visit to Shedd’s At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit to see silver and bighead carp up-close.

Watch this video series to learn more about the high stakes of the Great Lakes and the threat of Asian carp:

Native Species
From the mysterious mud puppy to the majestic bald eagle, the Great Lakes are home to more than 1,000 species of wildlife, including over 200 that are considered globally rare. Shedd invites people to connect with and celebrate these native species in our At Home on the Great Lakes exhibit. Shedd’s field studies of Great Lakes wildlife are building greater understanding and support for native species and the habitats they depend on. We also create meaningful experiences where kids can explore the diversity and richness of Great Lakes wildlife, including a week-long camping program on Lake Superior and onsite work-study opportunities.

Habitat Restoration
Critical habitats and ecosystems throughout the Great Lakes basin are at risk due to development, pollution and climate change. Shedd’s Great Lakes Action Days invite the public to lend a hand at five locations along Lake Michigan’s southern shoreline, in partnership with the National Parks Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Openlands, Alliance for Great Lakes, and the Chicago Park District. Our workdays include cleaning beaches, removing invasive species, monitoring local wildlife and, of course, having lots of fun. Our Great Lakes researchers also consult and collaborate on restoration projects and study impacts of habitat change on native species.

It’s not too late to do your part to help the Great Lakes. Learn what you can do to help at home and at play.

You can also help the Great Lakes by donating to Shedd Aquarium's annual fund. Donations to Shedd support animal care, education programs, community access, sustainability practices and conservation initiatives. Become a partner in all that Shedd does—please give now.

Conservator Partners:

The Great Lakes Program is generously supported by:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Institute of Museum and Library Services
US Forest Service
Norfolk Southern Foundation
Siragusa Foundation
Dan & Mary Armour and Family
Peoples Gas
Aurelio’s Pizza
Great Lakes Proud

The Great Lakes Program is an initiative of the Shedd Aquarium Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research.

Asian Carp

Asian carp are not the first invasive species to threaten the Great Lakes, but they certainly are one of the most controversial. Learn more

Help Shedd restore our local habitats

Find out how.

Great Lakes Program

Read more about our Great Lakes program (PDF).

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