While making a documentary about a mussel species in the Great Lakes, two filmmakers discover a ship that disappeared 128 years ago.
Yvonne Drebert and Zach Melnick were filming the invasive quagga mussel in Lake Huron when they stumbled upon the Africa, a steamship that disappeared in October 1895 while carrying coal from Ohio to Ontario, Fox Weather reported.
Africa disappeared after one night “on the stormy and wind-swept waters of Lake Huron,” the news site continued.
Drebert and Melnick also found themselves in troubled weather looking for invasive mussel species.
“Like when Africa came down during the early hurricane season of 1895, it was getting rough,” Drebert told Fox Weather.
“When we went out to check it was supposed to be nice and calm, but of course the wind kept picking up. In fact, we brought some friends with us,” he added.
“We thought we were just going to see a pile of rocks, so why not? But it got pretty rough and they felt a little seasick. So we have to call it a day.”
After Drebert and Melnick’s underwater drone spotted something pretty big, the pair and their team sent a robotic camera to get a better look.
The camera captured images of the mussels, which they documented. But when they saw that the shadow had entered, it surprised them.
“It got more and more defined as we got closer and closer, and suddenly we could see; “Wow! This is a steamship, a wooden steamship,” Melnik told Fox Weather.
“So this is ancient, and incredibly well intact.”
The invading mussels that took the two filmmakers out into Lake Huron appear to have discovered buried treasure before they did.
“Quaggas are the reason we can see a shipwreck in almost 300 feet of water without any additional light,” Melnyk continued.
The steamer is covered in mussels, which helps identify the wreck, but the invasive species will eventually destroy the ship.
The filmmakers were able to identify the ship as the Africa due to the size of the ship and the coal found around the wreck.
The discovery of the wreck brought excitement to the film team, but also brought a sense of closure to the families of the crew who perished in the shipwreck.
“One of the incredible things that has happened since this story came to light just a few weeks ago is that several descendants of family members who died on this shipwreck all those years ago have reached out to us,” Melnick shared.
He continued. “And we’re working with those families to try to find a way to remember those sailors who died 128 years ago.
The Riverside Invasive Species Research Center in California reports that the quagga [and zebra mussels] invasions have had “disastrous effects on the ecosystems in which they were created.”
“These organisms clog water intake structures (such as pipes and screens), greatly increasing water treatment and power plant maintenance costs,” the organization adds on its website.
“Recreational activities on lakes and rivers are adversely affected as mussels accumulate on docks, buoys, boat hulls, anchorages and beaches, and can become heavily fouled.”
“Interestingly, quagga and zebra mussel invasions have been documented to have some positive effects on host ecosystems. For example, water filtration by mussels as they extract food removes particles. This filtration improved water purity and reduced eutrophication of polluted lakes.”
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Image Source : nypost.com