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DTG3 Navigator Used in Archaeological Discovery

In mid-September of this year a group in the Straits of Mackinac came across a stunning archeological find.

The team, made up mostly of Native American tribal citizens, was conducting research on Enbridge’s Line 5 oil and natural gas pipelines, located on the lake bottom in Lake Michigan. It was during this important work that the group came across stones arranged in what looked like deliberate circular and linear patterns on the lake floor. If these arrangements were in fact completed by humans, as they appear, it would have been near the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago when the Straits of Mackinac were last above water. This impressive discovery is incredibly important culturally for tribes still living in the area, and a significant archaeological discovery.

We were thrilled to speak with Terri Wilkerson to hear more about the team’s findings and the use of the DTG3 Navigator in their research.

DTG3 Navigator on canoe

DTG3 Navigator

Needing to search the Straits thoroughly, the team made use of the DTG3 Navigator package to examine the lake floor and pipelines. Utilizing the USBL positioning system combined with BRIDGE technology, the Navigator allows users to show and record their position throughout a dive. The Navigator also comes equipped with a precision thruster for super stable auto depth and minor vertical adjustments.

“It was because of the technology this project was possible,” explained Terri. “The sharp camera images picked up details which made it easy to see patterns developing.”

The team built temporary supports for Jiimaan, the Little Traverse Bay Bands’ canoe, to accommodate ROV usage. “The 32-foot canoe was built in 1999 by our tribal community based on traditional plans we found at the Smithsonian museum”, said former Navy submariner and Little Traverse Bay Bands’ tribal council member Fred Harrington Jr. It was from this traditional canoe that the group deployed the ROV and began examining the Straits.

Canoe on archaeology mission

“The system integrates GPS and USBL so it is very sophisticated - and very useful, shared Terri. “The ROV controller is well thought out. The screen display has bold fonts with color coding so that it is easy to see and absorb the information you need quickly.”

Fred Harrington

During their search it was imperative that the team be able to use the vehicle quickly and conveniently as they navigated changing weather conditions and shrinking timelines. Terri noted, “The unit was relatively easy to learn, the information on the display had everything we needed”

The Deep Trekker Difference

Terri and Ian Archaeology Case Study

At Deep Trekker we aim to deliver solutions for every mission. “The DTG3 is solidly built. We were very impressed by its construction in general and especially impressed by the ruggedness which allows you to pick it up by the tether,” Terri said. “Deep Trekker gives a lot of attention to the right details to make a quality ROV!”

Our team strives to empower our customers and listen in our vision of accessing the impossible. Terri underlined the value of the Deep Trekker team. “Deep Trekker’s customer support is stellar. We never operated an ROV before buying the DTG3 and Deep Trekker was there, even on weekends and often answering calls and emails outside of stated customer service hours. Some of our questions required research which was quickly offered and completed, instead of guesswork given as definitive answers.”

Terri Archaeology

We sincerely thank Terri Wilkerson for her time and assistance. For more information about Line 5 and its place in the Great Lakes, go to Terri’s website

Our team of experts is here to answer any questions you may have about the DTG3 Navigator Package. You can also learn more about the use of the DTG3 for research in our case studies with Wilfrid Laurier University and Island Dolphin Care.

Photo Credits: Phil Hutchinson, Adam Zwickle, Terri Wilkerson