Hopes of tracking down the elusive bounty that fell from Ontario's sky recently are fading faster than a meteor trail in full sunlight.

Two meteorites appear to have fallen to Earth in a week. The first - thought to have weighed 50 to 100 kilograms before it hit the atmosphere, and possibly hailing from beyond Jupiter - is believed to have landed in the waters of Georgian Bay 10 days ago, about 9 kilometres from the shore of Pointe au Baril.

Just as the excitement of that fall was dying down, the University of Western Ontario began receiving calls from people in several Northern Ontario towns who saw a fiery flash in the early-afternoon sky last Monday.

"People saw a ball of fire in the sky, heard large explosions," said Wayne Edwards, a postdoctoral astronomy student. But he said more work must be done to be certain the sightings were of a meteor. "Very long-distance meteors produce a low frequency sound. From this one, we have a very weak reading that might be pointing to Northern Ontario. It's very hedgy at this point."

For meteorite collectors like Mike Tettenborn, the falls are tantalizing near-misses.

"Meteorites are very elusive, and very hard to find. They're rarer than diamonds," Mr. Tettenborn said from his Owen Sound home. "It's disappointing [the Georgian Bay fall] is so far off shore. If it'd landed inland, I'd have gone right away and started knocking on doors, asking if farmers had seen anything. At a moment's notice I'd go, but I haven't heard anything."

The UWO physics and astronomy department's network of all-sky cameras - which give blanket coverage of Southern Ontario - picked up the meteor over Georgian Bay as it streaked over Parry Sound at 10:59 p.m. EST on March 5.

As news of the fall was made public, UWO's phones were abuzz with volunteer meteorite hunters offering to help find whatever blazed its way to Earth.

But they were warned that finding anything - the meteorite or its debris - is going to be difficult: Mr. Edwards said the water was likely not frozen at the impact site, and last weekend's snowfallprobably covered any trace of the fragments that may have hit land.

Still, the team asked locals in the area to be on the lookout for any unusual objects. But in Pointe au Baril, the possibility of finding an ancient astronomical rarity barely raised a pulse.

"My daughter read about it, but other than that we didn't even know it had happened," said resident Richard Kaster. "It's not exactly big news here."

Meteorite seekers, though, are keeping a careful eye on developments. Should someone notice unusual debris or rocks on their Pointe au Baril property, the rare-stone hunters will be out in full force, Mr. Tettenborn said.

There are more than 1,000 meteorite collectors worldwide who communicate online, trading tales and stones in a lucrative global market that sees the space debris commanding higher prices than gold and diamonds. A few hundred people are "very active" like himself, Mr. Tettenborn said, and about a dozen big-time meteorite hunters fly around the globe tracking down the ancient rocks for a living.

"For meteorite seekers it's very exciting [to hear of a fall]. During snow time it's fantastic. If you see dark little stones on the ground, great! The problem is, I don't think there's been ice that far out," he said.

"I'd fly anywhere in the States or Canada if there was a good chance. I'd definitely go a day's drive. But the chances here are remote."

The Georgian Bay event is a bittersweet example of meteorite hunting in Southern Ontario: While there are plenty of people in the region to spot meteorites, there's also plenty of water for it to land in. And so far, the water has been winning, Mr. Edwards said.

"On the whole, the Earth is gathering material all the time. Whether that's in our area is random chance," Mr. Edwards said. "There's large bodies of water around us, so there's a 50 per cent chance it will land in water. So far, we've had more hit water than hit land."