Charlotte, The Vermont Whale
The Champlain Sea
The Champlain Sea was an inland arm of the Atlantic Ocean that flooded lowland areas following the retreat of the great continental ice sheets between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago. Ocean waters occupied areas depressed below sea level by the weight of continental ice sheets, ice sheets which at times were over a mile thick. Once the weight of the ice disappeared, the land slowly rebounded until it was once again above the level of the sea. (The elevation of present day Lake Champlain is approximately 95 feet above sea level.)
During its maximum extent, the Champlain Sea covered an area of over 20,500 square miles in portions of Ontario, Quebec, New York and Vermont. This area includes much of what is now the St. Lawrence River Valley, the lower Ottawa Valley and the Champlain Valley.
The general oceanographic conditions of the Champlain Sea are thought to be similar to those that presently exist in the James Bay region of Canada. Plant and animal communities in and around the Champlain Sea were likely similar to those that exist near the present Gulf of St. Lawrence, where species that inhabited the former inland sea are still found.