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Ice balls appear on beach on Lake Michigan beach

DETROIT – A rare phenomenon on a Lake Michigan beach caught the eye of a Michigan state park supervisor Friday morning, who snapped cell phone photos and posted them to the Holland State Park’s Facebook page.

“We went down to the beach to check on things and we saw these large ice balls,” said Sean Mulligan, a Department of Natural Resources supervisor at the park. “I had heard of them before, but I hadn’t ever seen them.”

Thousands of the balls, he estimated, rolled up onto the lakeshore.

Some were the size of baseballs and softballs; others were the size of bowling balls and dodge balls, and the biggest ones, just a few, looked to be the size of yoga balls, the kind some people use to work out with and do Pilates.

Watch: Rare, egg-shaped balls of ice wash ashore in Finland

The balls, experts say, form on beaches when weather conditions are just right: The temperatures are just below freezing along shallow beaches. Slush collects into round shapes and the waves sculpt ice chunks into orbs. 

Ice balls are occasionally spotted on the Great Lakes, as well as on beaches in Germany, Russia and Scandinavia. Last year, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported an amateur photographer took photos of ice balls on an island in the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden.

“I don’t know how long they’ll last for,” Mulligan said, “But, they were definitely down there this morning in force.”

Follow Frank Witsil on Twitter: @fwitsil

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