Dangers vs. Thrills of Lake Superior recreation

MARQUETTE–With school back in session, and summer weather making a comeback, many people are heading out for a dip in Lake Superior one last time before winter arrives. One popular area lies nestled inside Presque Isle; the Black Rocks cliffs. As fun as a breathtaking plunge into the lake can be, the area also poses many dangers that are often times overlooked.

“Lake Superior’s a very enjoyable place – it’s beautiful, it’s wonderful to look at – however it’s very dangerous,” said Marquette City Police Captain, Mike Laurila. “Any time you enter Lake Superior, you’re taking your safety at risk, and you’re putting yourself at risk. Jumping off rocks and getting into the currents and things like that not only puts you in danger, but puts first responders in danger, as well.”

The City of Marquette’s waterfront access code lists only a select handful of areas that are deemed as “swim areas,” with even a smaller portion of those being protected by lifeguards. Other areas are considered dangerous, and swimming is prohibited. The black rocks cliffs area is unprotected, and many officials recommend considering your safety first at this location.

“I would advise, anywhere you’re swimming, make sure that – number one, it’s a swim zone – that you’re legally allowed to swim there, and number two – that you’re being as safe as you possibly can. Keep in mind that Lake Superior can be very, very dangerous, as we all know,” warned Laurila.

Many students like to head to Lake Superior to take a break from classes during the week, and a few choose the cliff area. But what exactly is Northern Michigan University’s stance on waterfront safety when it comes to their students?

“The area surrounding Black Rocks is not listed as a designated swimming area, as far as our waterfront safety activities are concerned,” said Marquette Waterfront Safety Task Force member, Eric Smith. “However, we know that there are a number of recreational spots around the community that people like to enjoy. So the University, while it doesn’t take a position on any of the areas, urges students and anyone who’s using those places to assess the conditions and make good informed choices about the things and the activities that they’re going to undertake.”

While cliff jumping into Lake Superior can be a thrilling and memorable experience, before you take the leap of faith, make sure that you’re aware of your surroundings, and that safety is a priority.