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.