Shipwreck Discovery with Boxfish Luna

Documentary filmmakers from Inspired Planet Production Yvonne Drebert and Zach Melnick have unveiled a remarkable find – the intact shipwreck of the Africa, lost at sea since 1895 off Lake Huron’s Saugeen-Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. This discovery, made possible by their trusty underwater drone, the Boxfish Luna, sheds light on a fascinating piece of maritime history.

The journey began when scientists conducting an offshore fish survey detected an unusual anomaly on their sonar. This intriguing bump on the otherwise flat lakebed piqued their interest. Melnick and Drebert, renowned for their underwater videography using ROV, were called in for assistance. For two years, they had been working on a documentary project called “All Too Clear,” exploring life in the Great Lakes from an underwater perspective.

Armed with their cinematography class Boxfish Luna ROV, equipped with an ultra-low-light, high-resolution camera system, the filmmakers embarked on an unexpected adventure.

A Surprising Discovery

Descending nearly 280 feet beneath the lake’s surface, the team was initially unsure of what they would find. To their astonishment, a colossal structure emerged from the depths—the shipwreck, later identified as the Africa. Encrusted in invasive quagga mussels, identifying the vessel proved challenging.

Quaggas have filtered the Great Lakes to such an extent that water clarity has increased dramatically. In almost 300 feet of water, the Boxfish Luna captured the shipwreck in astonishing detail without the need for additional lighting. However, these same quaggas have made wreck identification a formidable task.

Unraveling the Mystery

To identify the ship, the filmmakers enlisted the expertise of local maritime historian Patrick Folkes and marine archaeologist Scarlett Janusas. After obtaining an archaeological license from the province of Ontario, the team returned to the site with their ROV for further exploration and measurements.

The Impact of the Find

The Africa’s discovery underscores the profound ecological and historical impact of invasive quagga mussels on the Great Lakes. Previously focused on the mussels’ devastation of fisheries, Melnick and Drebert have uncovered a new dimension of their influence on cultural heritage.

Keen to explore further underwater adventures? Join the filmmakers as they progress with their project on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!