Cayman camera washes up on Florida beach

| 27/10/2011

(CNS): A camera with pictures of Cayman’s Kittiwake has created a mystery for a Florida environment officer. As a beach enforcement specialist for St. Johns County’s environmental division, Mike Golubovich finds a lot of things washed up on the 42 miles of beach under his jurisdiction. Just after a nor’easter blew through the area earlier this month he found a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera case. “You never know what you’re going to find out there,” Golubovich told the St Augustine Reocord. “Naturally, this was intriguing.” After prying the salty case open with a screwdriver, he found the camera inside.

“What encouraged me about it was the fact that it was completely dry. So, the next step was to see if there were any images on it.”

The batteries were dead, so he put in new ones and the camera fired right up, he said. He found 153 photos on the camera’s storage drive including images of reef fish, coral, divers, a mermaid statue, and a major clue as to when and where the camera was lost — photos of the wreck of the decommissioned USS Kittiwake, sunk in the Cayman Islands in January as an artificial reef.

“So, that gives us a time frame as to when the camera was lost, which would have to be sometime this year,” he said adding that the visible growth on the wreck in the photos suggested not too long after the ship was sunk.

Though it’s possible that the camera went overboard elsewhere at a later date, Golubovich doesn’t think so. “It’s covered in gooseneck barnacles,” he said. “These grow in the intertidal regions of the ocean, in the tide wrack. From the looks of it, it’s been out there a while.”

Golubovich thinks the camera bobbed its way in the ocean currents all the way around the Cayman Islands into the Gulf Stream, which brought it to St John after the storm. “Anytime there’s a big storm out there, we get a lot more diverse things washing up on the beach,” he said. “I think this thing floated all the way here.”

Determined to find the owners, or at least get to the bottom of the story and a happy ending  as Golubovich said he had considered that something bad may have happened. “I was certainly a little apprehensive looking at the photos, especially at the end. I didn’t want to see the jaws of a shark coming at the lens,” he added.

In hopes of solving the mystery, Golubovich took the photos off the camera and uploaded some of them onto the Kittiwake Facebook page putting out a call to divers who may have lost the camera, or to anybody who might recognize the divers in the pictures. He has also contacted Sunset House.

“One result of this whole thing is that I’ve learned a lot about the Caymans,” he said. “And now, I want to go there myself and dive. It looks like a fantastic place.”

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Comments (11)

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  1. B.B.L. Brown says:

    Perhaps CNS can give us a followup on this story.  I am thinking the camera was lost here and drifted with the currents all the way to the northeast Florida coast.  It would be a great human interest story.  What about it, CNS?

  2. Anonnymous says:

    I do hope thediver who owned(s) the camera is alive and well.  On a positive note, we can't buy that kind of advertisement.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Took photos in Cayman then went diving in florida and lost camera!…or maybe Flight 19 dropped it on route to outer space.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Someone could have dropped there camera overboard in those waters while on a cruise also?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. Did we had divers that went missing or died in the sea this year?

    • Anonymous says:

      Very sinister thinking… Wouldn't it be more likely that someone simply lost the camera?

    • Really?! says:

      this where your mind goes? Wouldn't it be more plausible that someone dropped this camera in the ocean?

    • Anonymous says:

      Flashlights and Cameras in casings are often positively buoyant.  It is very easy (and common) for restraining strap to slip off accidentally (esp on a wreck) and then your toy accelerates to the surface.  Sometimes you are aware, sometimes not, but you can't just rush in pursuit to the surface as a diver, you risk "the bends".  A safe diver waves goodbye and learns for next time.  Many cameras lost on Kittiwake to date, my buddy lost a brand new one on maiden dive, prob 400 bucks.  Hopefully they reunite the owner in this situation.