As a terrestrial being, my perspective of the pure fantastic thing about Prince Edward County is quite distinctive. I view its pure magnificence from above the waterline of Lake Ontario, admiring its invaluable wetlands, its seasonal avian guests and its spectacular shoreline.
Nonetheless, as a marine scientist and diver, I’m additionally privileged to stare upon its underwater vistas, particularly on the scores of historic shipwrecks slumbering on the darkish lake-bed.
Certainly, you’ve heard of the Bermuda Triangle, chargeable for numerous shipwrecks and vanished airplanes. However do you know that Lake Ontario has its personal hungry vortex of doom? There are someplace between 270 and 500 shipwrecks in Lake Ontario’s japanese basin, and most of them are in an space referred to as The Marysburgh Vortex. The three factors of this ‘triangle’ are Wolfe Island, Mexico Bay close to Oswego, New York, to Level Petre in Prince Edward County.
The Marysburgh Vortex is a curious area of magnetic anomaly. Navigation throughout the space is harmful as a result of the magnetic discipline can offset a compass by 20 levels! Simply 25 toes beneath the floor of the lake lies a ring-shaped shoal, possible from a meteorite affect 460 million years in the past that deposited these compass-confusing minerals.
Past retaining a snapshot of historical past for leisure divers, the wrecks are a examine of how human objects can have an effect on pure underwater environments with little disruption. Because the years cross, these sleeping ships grow to be properties for fish and different marine animals.
The shipwrecks within the Marysburgh Vortex function sub-aquatic condominiums for myriad fish species, particularly, huge faculties of pelagic bait-fish, together with native species like Rainbow Smelt and invasive species like Alewives (which threaten native species).
These long-lost, drowned ships not solely present shelter for these bait-fish from marauding predators but additionally function a perpetual supply of diet for them, with the plentiful progress of phyto-plankton and diversified zoo-plankton.
A diver would possibly even see invasive zebra mussels at residence on shipwrecks in Lake Ontario. These filter-feeding mollusks eat plankton and make the water crystal clear for divers, however can have dangerous results on the aquatic meals internet.
It isn’t unusual to find a solitary massive trout or salmon residing within the sanctuary of a shipwreck, surveying its watery area for uninvited interlopers. These territorial, pescatorial “Landlords” are typically quite “bossy”—they’ve even been identified to problem these strange-looking alien guests, AKA, scuba divers.
Sustaining a wholesome ecosystem is necessary to supporting future quests to find long-lost shipwrecks off Prince Edward County. An excellent instance of the distinctive relationship between these diving quests and the encompassing ecosystem is how divers typically use the sudden look of big faculties of pelagic bait-fish on side-scan sonar screens as an indicator that they’re approaching their focused anomaly on the lakebed.
A Nationwide Marine Conservation Space in Lake Ontario’s japanese basin would defend these glimpses of historical past and becoming a member of of human affect on aquatic ecosystems. What’s extra, there are nonetheless many extra shipwrecks within the space which might be but to be discovered!
Kenn M. Feigelman was born in Montreal. In1973, he co-founded Deep/Quest 2 Expedition. He attended McGill and Concordia College, receiving his Doctorate in Marine Historical past from the School of Marine Arts in South Carolina. He’s an avid marine scientist, photographer, and documentary movie producer.