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Teacher shows Web has whale of a joke

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MUSKEGON, Mich. (AP) — Teacher Deb Harris could hardly believe what she was reading to her fourth-grade class. Whales in Lake Michigan?

But that's what it said in her "Michigan Studies Weekly," a newspaper distributed to 462 teachers statewide.

Harris called Utah-based Studies Weekly Inc., which puts out the teaching aid, but she said an editor stood behind the story.

"I've lived here all my life — there are no whales in Lake Michigan," Harris recalled telling the editor.

A retraction was later posted on the company's Web site with an explanation that the false information came from a different Internet site intended as a joke.

"We at Studies Weekly want this to be a lesson to you," the apology said. "Not all Web sites are true, and you cannot always believe them. When researching, you should always look for a reliable site that has credentials (proof of truthfulness)."

Studies Weekly publications have a circulation of 1.2 million readers in third through sixth grades nationwide.

The article read: "Every spring, the freshwater whales and freshwater dolphins begin their 1,300-mile migration from Hudson Bay to the warmer waters of Lake Michigan."

In reality, the closest whales get to Michigan is the salty estuary at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, which is home to beluga whales.