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The Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands in Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. The majority of the islands are located in Ashland County—only Sand, York, Eagle, and Raspberry Islands are located in Bayfield County. All the islands except for Madeline Island are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The islands in Ashland County are all in the Town of La Pointe, except for Long Island, which is in the Town of Sanborn, while those in Bayfield County are in the Towns of Russell and Bayfield.
The islands are the spiritual home for the Lake Superior Chippewa. The islands were named the Apostle Islands by New France historian Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, who named them after the 12 apostles (for the 12 largest islands).
"The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore provides regionally diverse and unique plant communities." "Over 800 plant species occur within the lakeshore, including Wisconsin listed endangered and threatened species." The Apostles are dominated by boreal forest, composed largely of white spruce (Picea glauca) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea), often mixed with white birch (Betula papyrifera), white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), white pine (Pinus strobus), balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides). On Madeline Island, Stockton Island, and several other islands, a unique bog-dune ecosystem can be found near deep bays and enclosed lagoons.
According to the National Park Service, "One of the greatest concentrations of black bears in North America is found on Stockton Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bears also regularly inhabit Sand and Oak islands, and, due to their mobility, may be found on just about any of the Apostle Islands."
"The Lakeshore provides important nesting habitat for the following colonial nesting birds: herring and ring-billed gulls, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, and cliff swallows. Gull and Eagle Islands combined have 88% of the lakeshore's breeding herring gull populations and 80% of the herring gull breeding population on the entire Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior. Eagle Island has the only great blue heron rookery in the park."
Some of the best sea caves of the Great Lakes are located on the shorelines of the Apostle Islands. Many of the best sea caves to visit are located at the following locations: Swallow Point on Sand Island, the North Shore of Devils Island, and near Squaw Bay on the mainland. Arches and delicate chambers are visible . During the winters, visitors can see frozen waterfalls and chambers filled with millions of delicate icicles.
All islands lie in the Town of La Pointe, in Ashland County, unless indicated otherwise.
|Madeline Island||15359.45 Acres||Largest, inhabited, not part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore|
|Stockton Island||9892.46 Acres|
|Gull Island||3.51 Acres||Smallest|
|Eagle Island||27.7 Acres||Westernmost; in Town of Bayfield, Bayfield County|
|Outer Island||7860.88 Acres||Easternmost and northernmost, site of Outer Island Lighthouse|
|Oak Island||5024.09 Acres|
|Sand Island||2859.33 Acres||In Town of Bayfield, Bayfield County, site of Sand Island Lighthouse|
|Basswood Island||1914.28 Acres|
|Bear Island||1814.03 Acres|
|Michigan Island||1538.74 Acres||Site of Michigan Island Lighthouse|
|Hermit Island||787.60 Acres|
|Cat Island||1339.07 Acres|
|Otter Island||1322.68 Acres|
|Manitou Island||1325.20 Acres|
|Rocky Island||1049.32 Acres|
|Long Island||308.7 Acres||Southernmost; not geologically part of the Apostle Islands, but rather an extension of Chequamegon Point; in Town of Sanborn, Ashland County|
|Ironwood Island||666.05 Acres|
|York Island||273.83 Acres||In Town of Russell, Bayfield County|
|Raspberry Island||287.6 Acres||In Town of Russell, Bayfield County, site of Raspberry Island Lighthouse|
|Devils Island||310.28 Acres||Site of Devils Island Lighthouse|
|South Twin Island||336.37 Acres|
|North Twin Island||165.7 Acres|