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Discovering the ‘Sixth Great Lake’ From Below 

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Is a sixth great lake hidden beneath the Ottawa River? Jill Heinerth investigated the largest underwater cave system. She describes her experiences as a world-renowned cave diver, as well as the significance of exploring and protecting the underwater world.

According to Jill Heinerth, Canada’s longest underwater cave system under the Ottawa River is 10.6 kilometres (6.5 miles) long and runs through Ontario and Quebec. Inside this fresh water cave system, she has seen the densest population of underwater life in her many underwater cave diving exhibitions. There are numerous mussels (filter-feeding orgamisms) that are vital to the underwater eco-system. These mussels are an endanged species.

The Ottawa River is a river in Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It was named after the Algonquin word for “to trade” because it was the main trade route in Eastern Canada at the time. It forms the border between these two provinces for the majority of its length. It is the longest river in Quebec and a major tributary of the St. Lawrence River.

The river is 1,271 km (790 mi) long and drains an area of 146,300 km2 (56,500 sq mi), with a mean discharge of 1,950 m3/s (69,000 cu ft/s) in Quebec and the rest in Ontario. The Carillon Reservoir has a maximum depth of 90 m (300 ft) and is 7,400 m (24,300 ft) wide at its widest point.

Ottawa River
Lezumbalaberenjena at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wetland areas abound on the Ottawa River. Going downstream from Pembroke, some of the more biologically significant wetland areas include the Westmeath sand dune/wetland complex, Mississippi Snye, Breckenridge Nature Reserve, Shirleys Bay, Ottawa Beach/Andrew Haydon Park, Petrie Island, the Duck Islands and Greens Creek.

These, like all wetlands, are subject to seasonal fluctuations in water level. High water levels contribute to the formation and maintenance of silver maple swamps, whereas low water levels allow many rare wetland plants to grow on the exposed sand and clay flats. There are five major types of wetland vegetation. One is swamp, with a lot of silver maple.

Another spectacular underwater cave system is Wet Dream, a 1,710-metre-long underwater cave on northern Vancouver Island. This system was discovered in 2012. It is located in the same area as Reappearing River, a large 1,604-metre underground river system.

YouTube VideoThe Agenda” with Steve Paikin


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About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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