A team of shipwreck-hunting enthusiasts who've spent years trolling the unpredictable waters of Lake Ontario say they've stumbled upon wrecks whose appearance completely stumps them. Two canal boats on the bottom of the lake—more than 200 feet deep—lie within a few miles of each other about halfway between Oswego and Sackets Harbor, NY, reports the Syracuse Post-Standard. One boat is 65 feet long, the other 78. "They aren't [supposed] to be there," says Jim Kennard, one of the divers. "What is a canal boat doing out there?"
Canal boats weren't built to withstand the environmental pressures of a big lake, which may help explain how these two ended up wrecked. Divers used a remote-operated vehicle to confirm that they were in fact canal boats, but New York's historic shipwrecks belong to the people of the state and are thus protected from any unauthorized disturbance. Neither vessel has been ID'd, but the explorers date them to the mid-1800s, coinciding with the widening of the Erie Canal to allow for bigger boats, reports the AP. The boats' owners likely "took a chance" trying to have the boats haul cargo on the lake, Kennard says: "It didn't work." (Check out the extra-tragic story behind another recently found shipwreck.)