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Phone Survives 5 Months Underwater in a Sealife Housing


Phone Survives 5 Months Underwater in a Sealife Housing

After 5 months underwater in a Sealife housing Ro Hill's Brand New I-phone 13 still worked perfectly

Ro Hill and David Ferguson, March 2023

My momentary disbelief was quickly replaced with horror as I watched the bright red of my Sealife Sportdiver phone case descending below my fins – clearly not securely clipped despite our “Bruce Willis Ruins All Films” buddy checks. Just a brief turn to signal the dive master, but the red case was no longer visible as I turned back, sinking on my body weight hoping we’d meet at the bottom – but no such luck. The ocean floor around Cocoa Corner Maldives dive site dropped away quickly, so I guessed it was somewhere below 40m.

Phone Survives 5 Months Underwater in a Sealife Housing

David and I loved the vacuum seal and leak alarm on the SeaLife – no more flooded cameras. Just 12 months earlier I’d lost the best photos (taken by my daughter) of mandarin fish discovered by our Cairns Nautilus Scuba Club at Lady Musgrave Island on the Great Barrier Reef.  Now I had lost photos of manta rays, nurse sharks, octopus swimming AND my brand new I-phone 13Pro. I resignedly bought an entry-level replacement phone and avoided thoughts of my stupidity …

In February 2023, 5 months after I lost the case, Vaclav Jirotka was leading an Eco Dive Club group, cruising to a location frequented by leopard sharks around 30 m when he spotted something that shouldn’t be there. Descending to 41.3 m, he retrieved a coral-encrusted case.

Phone Survives 5 Months Underwater in a Sealife Housing

He opened the vacuum seal to discover an I-phone in perfect condition once fully charged – although sadly the coral-encrusted case was no longer functional. Vaclav was about to give up after a fruitless search for owners on Facebook when his daughter said: “Hey Dad look at the tiny words on the man’s  T-shirt Nautilus Scuba Club Cairns 2020-2021 – why don’t we try contacting them?”

The Maldives trip in September 2022, another great Club outing, was part of our overseas holiday starting in Czech Republic. So in March 2023, when the Club Secretary forwarded me the email from Vaclav in the Czech Republic with an attached photo of myself and David, saying he had found something of theirs, I immediately suspected a scam. Had someone in Prague hacked my phone? Or was it a device-destroying virus?

Phone Survives 5 Months Underwater in a Sealife Housing

David quickly found Vaclav on Facebook – a dive master in the Maldives. Now we realised the photo was from the home screen of my phone!  OMG! We emailed Vaclav back, provided the serial number, and he confirmed he had my phone – apparently 27 others had tried to claim it!

I had the phone shipped backed to Australia and now we are happily reunited.  Vaclav and his daughter were so impressed that they have purchased a Sealife case each. I’m deeply grateful for the fine print on the Cairns Nautilus Scuba Club’s T-shirt that led the phone back home and even more for Vaclav’s heroic efforts to find its owners. But the biggest hero is the Sealife case that kept its vacuum seal for 5 months at >40m

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Adrian Stacey
Scuba Diver ANZ Editor, Adrian Stacey, first learned to dive on the Great Barrier Reef over 24 years ago. Since then he has worked as a dive instructor and underwater photographer in various locations around the world including, Egypt, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Saba. He has now settled in Australia, back to where his love of diving first began.
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