The great Kittiwake camera mystery

    Diver Lead1
    Divers are scratching their heads up in Florida after a camera washed up on Crescent Beach, St. John’s County. 

    Finder of the barnacle-encrusted piece of equipment was Mike Golubovich, who works for St. John’s Country Beach Services in St. Augustine. 

    “During an inspection on 7 October, 2011, of a Sargassum wrack line that began to form on Crescent Beach, I found the housing,” he told the Caymanian Compass exclusively. 

    ”I took the housing back to our work shop and pried it open with a screwdriver. I was completely astonished when the housing revealed a bone-dry camera. The batteries were not working, but after I changed them, the camera turned on and 153 photos were available for review. 

    “The camera contains an assortment of images including reef fish, coral, divers, the mermaid statue, and the Kittiwake dive site – a photo of the placard on the wreck,” Mr. Golubovich said. 

    No date record 

    As the camera had run out of battery power, the time and date defaulted to zero, therefore there is no date record of when the camera may have been first lost. 

    “I did notice that there wasn’t a substantial amount of algae growing on the wreck in the photos, possibly suggesting that this dive happened shortly after the sinking of the Kittiwake … I believe this camera was only used on two dives in the Cayman Islands before it drifted to Florida,” he said. 

    The ship was sunk on Wednesday, 5 January, to form a special wreck dive as well as serve as an artificial reef for marine life. The project was some eight years in planning and negotiation and drew worldwide interest from media and divers intrigued by the Caribbean’s newest dive attraction. 


    Calling all divers 

    As soon as Mr. Golubovich was able to get the photographs off the camera he uploaded them onto the Facebook page of the Kittiwake, where a call was put out by his wife, Angie, to divers who may have lost the camera. 

    “The housing was covered in barnacles suggesting that it spent some time out at sea,” she wrote. “Did this camera float to Florida from the Caribbean? Do you recognise the diver in the photo?” 

    Although the distance is more than 1,000 miles, it is not unusual for items to make their way to Florida sands, Mr. Golubovich said. 

    “We find all kinds of things that wash up on our beaches. We see increases in debris after large storm events and sustained southeasterly to easterly winds,” he said. “We have collections of common household items from many Caribbean Islands.” 

    The sea, it seems, holds many mysteries – but this is one that people of the Cayman Islands and the wider dive community may well just be able to solve. Sea sleuths, to your computers! 

    The pictures are viewable on the Kittiwake Cayman Facebook page. 


    Do you recognise this diver? We asked his friend, but she wouldn’t talk. – Photo: Submitted


    1. This is similar to a story of a camera that drifted from Aruba to the Florida Keys and was found March of last year. Some internet sleuthing reunited camera and owner and the story even circulated in the national press in the US.

    2. If you look on the meta-file for each picture, it will tell you the date the picture was taken and what kind of camera was used. That gets encoded into the .JPG file when the picture is taken, so the dead camera batteries aren’t an issue.

    3. As the camera had run out of battery power, the time and date defaulted to zero, therefore there is no date record of when the camera may have been first lost.

      Not correct – each and every photo taken by digital camera has time signature in the file. So it is possible (and easy) to get the dates.

      The only problem can be if internal clock battery was out when photo was shot (which is unlikely) or if internal clock were not set properly (not that likely).

      If anyone can get original photo downloaded from camera please get the date.

    4. Hello all, thanks for the posts. I will do my best to answer your questions. In regards to the time file and metadata: the time and date did not actually default to zero do to the absense of power, I believe that the date in the camera was never set correctly, as it read 1/4/00. This date is 11 years prior to the sinking of the Kittiwake. The metadata does not help me much, other than revealing that divers embarked on at least 3 separate dives.

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