Lake Ontario ‘UFO’.

When Is a UFO Not a UFO?

MUFON Case file: 43681

I chanced upon this case whilst researching for another, and found it very intriguing. I set about analysing the image above to determine the truth of it. The location where the photo was taken is currently undergoing a UFO flap with sightings almost on a daily basis.  What is more, there has been a recent upsurge in sightings of rectangular UFOs worldwide, and it is not uncommon to witness them over, large bodies of water and also in the midst of storms. What I discovered about this particular event was very interesting, and is a timely lesson on the nature of evidence and inference. All is not as it seems.

lake ufo 1


Witness Statement

(edited for brevity)

We were watching a line of storms move across the lake. Some of the storms were producing waterspouts and I wanted to get pictures of them [see image below].

It was about 8 am and I took my camera and went outside. I saw what I thought was a ship. We don’t see ships that large as we are not on the shipping lanes. I thought lake ufo2perhaps the ship was there because it was trying to avoid the storms, but it eventually turned and went into the worst of them. I took pictures of it and tried to get an angle that would show the storms in background. I just thought it would make a great picture. When I went back in my husband asked me if I got pictures of the ship, and remarked on how amazing it was on how the sunlight reflected on it. The light seemed to be reflecting on all sides. It was just glowing. I thought it was strange the way it looked and when I looked at the pictures on my computer they really looked strange. We were facing north and sun would be on our right. The whole object was illuminated and showed  no signs of being effected by the rough water or storms. It also looked very square, which didn’t make sense for a ship or barge. It was travelling east-north east and then turned north and just disappeared. Maybe it got just too far away. I am not sure. I hope I am not wasting your time and will include photos that I can. Thank you …

Image Analysis.

By converting the original close up image to negative I was able to remove the glare from the object, and by doing so could discern more detail. As you can see from thisxxxxxxx9-24-12-WOLCOTT-NEW-YORK-MUFON-43681-PIC-1 image the object appears structured and is rectangular in shape. You will also note that it appears to be hovering  just above the water. Note also the faint central line intersecting the rectangle. At this point I recalled the wintnesses’ statement of how the object glowed. An idea began to formulate in my mind. Could this be a mirage of some kind?

by Jeanette Cain

What is a mirage? A mirage is a misleading appearance. Most mirages occur on the seas or in the deserts. What will cause a mirage? A reflection. What causes reflection? Light. We seldom consider light as anything magical or wonderful, but light allows us the ability to see many good things and, often, many bad things.

Mirages, also called illusions, are caused by a reflection of some distance object which allows you to think that it is close by. In physics, it is known as an optical illusion. The more common type of mirage is called inferior mirage. It happens when a refraction of light passes through the atmosphere layers with varying qualities. Distance objects may seem to be raised above or below their normal locality. These objects may be seen as irregular and fantastic shapes.

Superior mirages are spectacular events, but much less common than the inferior mirage. These occur mainly over the horizon of the sea when distant objects are sketched, or drawn, upside down n the sky. Sometimes there is an erect image of the same object which will be above the upside-down image. This is characteristic of cold areas and conditions with a strong change of temperature where the warmer layers of air rise above the cooler layers. This involves a complicated action of wave fronts of light as the pass through the layers.

 Image of superior mirage.

superior mirage

I began to wonder what kind of vessels plied the lake waters and came across a particular type of barge, which I strongly suspected was the most likely candidate for the mirage (see inset).

lake barge insert

Bear in mind that a mirage is not always an exact duplicate of what is creating it. They are invariably distorted. You will recall my mentioning that the image appears to be hovering just above the water line. This is a common factor in many mirages, such as the one below.

An Iceberg in the Sky!


Evidence-based Conclusion:   The image is most likely a ‘Superior’ mirage of a lake barge reflected against the dark background of the storm. The intersecting white line across the barge’s hull may well be the boundary line between the barge itself and its ‘superior’ image.

Update:   Having sent this case to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomenon (ASSAP), I’m pleased to announce that their independent study has confirmed my conclusion that the object is indeed a mirage.

© David Calvert 2012

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