Underwater Drone Uncovers Unique Piece of History at the Bottom of Lake Ontario

By: Beth Moreton | Last updated: Jul 10, 2024

Lake Ontario is one of the five great lakes in North America, and it is based in Ontario, Canada. For a long time, it was unknown exactly what was at the bottom of this lake, so researchers used a drone to find out.

The mission was known as “Raise the Arrow,” and researchers ensured that it was kept secret so that locals and people visiting the lake didn’t get their hopes up.

Lake Ontario Is Widely Unexplored

Lake Ontario has banks that are thousands of years old and 400 cubic miles of unexplored waters. Due to the sheer scale, the researchers needed a bit of help to ensure they could explore all of this space.

The water from Lake Ontario has some green trees in the background.

Source: Patrick Lalonde/Unsplash

To help them, they used ThunderFish, an underwater drone with a sonar-powered camera that takes high-resolution images of its surroundings.


Most of the Planet Remains Unexplored

Lake Ontario isn’t the only place on Earth that is widely unexplored, as most of Earth is unexplored, despite having existed for billions of years.

A view of Earth from space.

Source: NASA/Unsplash

Scientists have estimated that around 65% of Earth remains unexplored to this day. While it is somewhat exciting to guess what may yet be found, it is likely to take many more years of research before this is done.

OEX Recovery Group Incorporated Worked on the Mission

At the heart of this mission was OEX Recovery Group Incorporated, which is financially supported by Canadian mining companies and financial institutions.

Lake Ontario at sunset with birds flying about it and a bare tree to the left-hand side.

Source: Keith Pomakis/Wikimedia Commons

The goal of all of these groups is to find objects that have been forgotten at the bottom of Lake Ontario. 

Erosion Decreases an Object’s Value

One issue with objects that are underwater is that they are subject to erosion. This means that the object will eventually decrease in value.

Cracks on the ground that show erosion. The ground is brown.

Source: Rory McKeever/Unsplash

The longer an object is left underwater, the more it will erode and the more it will decrease in value. The OEX Group knew that this meant that they had to work fast to prevent more erosion from happening.

The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow

Canada was a forerunner in military aviation in the 1950s, and the Avro Canada group created the CF-105, known as “Arrow,” to answer the West’s calls for an advanced fighter jet to help with the Cold War.

The front of an Avro Canada CF-105 plane. It is black and white.

Source: Clemens Vasters/Wikimedia Commons

It had an electronic dash, advanced radar system and aerodynamic delta wings. It was also believed to be the object at the bottom of Lake Ontario. 


The Arrows Were Pulled From Production

Despite the success of the Arrows, the Canadian Prime Minister at the time, John Diefenbaker, pulled the project and left hundreds of people unemployed.

The Avro Canada CF-105 with a red maple leaf inside a blue circle on the wings.

Source: Rob Huston/Wikimedia Commons

Not knowing what to do with these fighter jets, the prototypes were taken out to Point Petre on Lake Ontario and were sent down to a watery grave.


Other Ontario Lakes Hold Deep Secrets

Lake Ontario isn’t the only lake in Ontario to hold deep secrets, as Lake Superior has also been found to have held a secret for over 3 billion years.

An aerial view of Lake Superior, with trees on clifftops next to it.

Source: Andrew Ling/Unsplash

The lake has an interesting sulfur cycle, which helps scientists learn more about sulfur levels billions of years ago and gain a better understanding of ancient Earth.


Other Objects Found at the Bottom of Lake Ontario

The plane isn’t the only object found at the bottom of Lake Ontario. In 2021, a New York-based photographer went out on the lake iin a small fishing boat.

An aerial view of Lake Ontario.

Source: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

He found the outline of a sunken tugboat at the water’s surface, which he had previously discovered in 1974 when snorkeling around the lake.


Creating a Map of Lake Ontario

To try and figure out where these missing planes could possibly be, research crews used Thunderfish to help them create a map from underwater that would show what it had seen by the end of each day.

A yellow and white Thunderfish is being lowered into the water from a red boat.

Source: @KrakenRobotics/X

The team believed that doing this would help them find the missing objects within days instead of weeks or months.


60 Years of Rumors

The search that transpired was based on 60 years of rumors. Locals had reported sightings of an object underwater, but just as soon as it had appeared, it vanished.

The Avro Canada CF-105 prototype was found at the bottom of Lake Ontario. It is inside a yellow box secured with green rope. A crowd of people is standing around the box.

Source: @thisiscanadiana/X

Therefore, everything they were searching for was purely based on rumors. This meant not wanting to get the locals’ hopes up, so the team kept the search a secret until they were certain.


Confirming the Rumors

Once Thunderfish had completed its mission, the researchers realized that the rumors were true. The images from underwater clearly showed an aircraft, which was later confirmed to be one of the CF-105 Arrows.

Two divers underwater next to the wreck of the Avro Canada CF-105 prototype.

Source: @CBCOttowa/X

It showed a lost piece of Canadian history and confirmed that at least one of the prototypes had ended up in the water. As only one has been found, the team still needs more time to confirm where more of these aircraft made it into the water, or if that was just a rumor too.