X

Menu

Exploring Isle Royale’s Wildlife

Exploring Isle Royale’s Wildlife

Isle Royale National Park is an extraordinary destination with a unique ecosystem that supports varied, albeit limited, animals and wildlife. While fish can swim and birds can fly the minimum 14 miles to the mainland, visitors to Isle Royale often wonder at how mammals, reptiles, and even non-flying insects came to be on the island.

Isle Royale’s wildlife has fascinated researchers and visitors alike for years, and tracking and monitoring efforts reveal that not only are wildlife populations continually changing, but so are the actual species that call the island home.

How Isle Royale’s Unique Geography And Climate Affects Wildlife

Isle Royale is located in the middle of Lake Superior, the most treacherous and unforgiving of the Great Lakes. The closest mainland is Minnesota, a minimum of 14 miles away.

For animals and wildlife, this means getting to the island is not easy. We know they weren’t on the island when it broke away from the mainland, because this is not how Isle Royale was formed. So, how did they do it?

  • Fish and birds can travel the short distance easily, and these are by far the most abundant wildlife on the island.
  • Mammals can walk across Lake Superior when it is frozen in the winter.
  • Insects and other small creatures can hitch a ride on private boats, ferries, or planes from the mainland – knowingly or unknowingly!

However, every living thing that arrives on the island must be able to survive the harsh winters if they are to reproduce and thrive.

What Lives On Isle Royale

Mammals

Probably the most peculiar, and most studied, wildlife on the island are the wolf and moose.
The two groups have a very straightforward predator-prey relationship and they’ve coexisted successfully for many decades. Recently, however, the wolf population has dwindled. What was once a thriving pack of 50+ wolves is now down to just two or three. With wolves keeping the moose population in check, it will be interesting to see how the National Park Service handles this decline.

Amazingly, 100 years ago, neither of these species existed on the island. In their place were caribou, coyote and lynx. This shows how sensitive certain species can be to the delicate and ever-evolving ecosystem of the island.

In all, just 19 mammals call Isle Royale home, including the most abundant of all mammals, the chatty red squirrel.

Birds

Because birds can come and go from the island so easily, more than 1,000 species have been spied on the island during the last century when monitoring began. The list has changed significantly over time, and even today’s list contains a varied collection of year-round species, migrating species, and those that only come to the island to breed. A full list of Isle Royale’s known bird species can be found here.

Fish

When you think of an island in the middle of a lake, an abundance of fish probably comes to mind. Indeed, the island and the surrounding waters are home to more than 40 species of fish, some only found in the inland lakes and streams of the island. Some species that can be found here include lake whitefish, brook trout, and lake trout in the waters of Lake Superior; the inland lakes are home to yellow perch, northern pike, and walleye, and also the trout-perch, which is unique to the island. A full list of Isle Royale’s known fish species can be found here.

Book Your Trip Now With Isle Royale Seaplanes

The best way to learn about the wildlife of Isle Royale National Park is to experience it firsthand! Book your trip now with Isle Royale Seaplanes and experience an exhilarating 35 minute ride from Houghton, Michigan to Windigo or Rock Harbor where you’ll start your wilderness adventure.

« Previous Post
Next Post »

ISLE ROYALE SEAPLANES

Hancock Portage Canal
Seaplane Base
21125 Royce Road
Hancock, MI 49930

Cook County Airport
123 Airport Road
Grand Marais, MN 55604

(906) 483-4991

Email Us

Isle Royale Seaplanes

RESERVATIONS

View the reservations calendar or click the button below to request a seaplane flight reservation.

Request Reservation

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

FACEBOOK FEED

December 1st-
One month closer to May! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What is your favorite part about Isle Royale? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#flyisleroyale
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

From our family at Isle Royale Seaplanes to yours, ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Happy Thanksgiving!
⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We are grateful for the communities we serve, the passengers we fly, as well as the incredibly beautiful scenery we get to enjoy every day we fly!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We are especially grateful to our wonderful seaplane family, our pilots, mechanic, and reservationist!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Happy Thanksgiving!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

The canal may be on the eve of freezing... but we are still dreaming of summer days and splashing around!
#flyisleroyale
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Still thinking about what to do this weekend?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
How about make your reservations with Isle Royale Seaplanes for 2019?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Say what? But it’s not January yet!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
That’s right, you can make your 2019 reservations with us today!
(Literally today! Even though it’s the weekend)
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We are now taking 2019 reservations, so if you do have plans for the weekend, don’t worry, you don’t have to book today, but you also don’t have to wait until January!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Happy planning!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If this does excite you and you’re looking back on your Isle Royale photos please remember to use #flyisleroyale to connect with us and to be featured!
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

2 months ago

Isle Royale Seaplanes

Raise your hand (and by raise your hand I mean double tap) if you are already planning your next Isle Royale adventure!
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Do you prefer to start at Rock Harbor or Windigo?
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
#flyisleroyale #isleroyalenps #isleroyale #keweenaw #keweenawpeninsula #grandmaraismn #northshoremn #upnorth #adventure #floatplane #seaplane ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

CONTACT US

Start your next adventure from our NEW ROUTE picking you up in Grand Marais, MN!Book a flight