Lost GoPro found after five years at sea

LIBBY WILSON AND CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 10:32 05/02/2014

The last seconds of footage from a Go-Pro camera after it fell off a wake board in 2009 before being found on a beach this summer.

Wayne Hall, lost Go Pro
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
Found in flotsam: Wayne Hall found a GoPro which spent almost five years submerged in the Firth of Thames, and located its owner.

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A GoPro camera which spent almost five years in the Firth of Thames shows messages in a bottle may have a digital equivalent.

A Waikato couple found the Hero GoPro among "flotsam" after a storm about two weeks ago and a Facebook campaign led them to the owner - now in England.

Taupiri couple Wayne and Marilyn Hall were at Thornton Bay, near Thames, when Mrs Hall spotted something among the beach debris.

"It just looked like a little gadget . . . just something different so I picked it up," she said.

The waterproof case made it hard to identify the discovery, but Mr Hall took it off, located the memory card, and plugged it into their laptop.

The last of the eight short films on the card was taken in February 2009, and finished with the camera sinking to the sea floor.

"I just wanted to find the person," Mr Hall said. "I could not believe that this thing had been floating around for five years."

A screen grab of a man in the videos was posted on Facebook, and Mrs Hall's sister, Robyn Crocome, recently put it on the Hibiscus Coast page.

Within 10 hours, the man in the video was identified as Tom Kelly, who now lives in Birmingham.

"Two people knew the owner as he had lived in Browns Bay. He then moved to Mt Maunganui, and over to England where he lives now," Mrs Crocome said.

Mr Kelly lost the camera the first time he tried using it, wakeboarding with friends around a kilometre off the Thames Coast.

He tried to do a jump and face-planted.

"By the time I had pulled my face back into place I realised my nice new GoPro had been swallowed up by sea monsters," he said.

"Never in a million years did I think I would ever see it again, let alone hearing the camera made it back to solid ground after so long under water."

The camera's "perfect" condition also amazed the finders.

"If you put a new battery in it, I'd say it would work. There's no damage to the camera that I can see and there's no moisture inside it," Mr Hall said.

He explained the situation to GoPro when he contacted them to list the serial number and even they were surprised, he said. The camera will be sent to a friend of Mr Kelly's on the North Shore, who will forward it.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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