The GoPro is known for being tough, a camera that can withstand just about anything, including being submerged for more than a decade in the unforgiving waters off Alaska’s coastline.
Richard Diemer, a 49-year Kodiak resident, found a GoPro that washed up on a beach in Pasagshak and returned it last week to its owner, who lost the camera while surfing in 2009. And to everybody’s surprise, the GoPro, which was sealed in a waterproof case, still worked.
“Yes, it does — 100 percent. There is literally nothing wrong with it,” said Joe Lickfield, the owner of the GoPro. “It’s insane. The case took the beating.”
After Diemer stumbled upon the GoPro, he took it home and was surprised the memory card still worked. His wife posted a screenshot of a boy surfing on the Friends of Kodiak Facebook page in hopes of reconnecting the camera to its owner. Within minutes, Lickfield’s mom responded to the post.
The first thing Lickfield did after getting reacquainted with the camera was to charge it to see if it still worked. He couldn’t believe that it turned on.
“I’ll definitely have to send them (GoPro) an email or give them a phone call,” Lickfield said.
“Anything in the ocean for 11 years is going to get wet,” Diemer added. “Kudos for GoPro for having a water-tight case.”
Lickfield, who works at Kodiak Lawn Care, still remembered how the GoPro fell to the ocean’s floor. He was 14 at the time and surfing with his friend, Jon LeVan. After he missed a few waves, he finally caught one.
“It pushed me forward — the nose of my surfboard into the ground,” Lickfield recalled. “That is where my GoPro was attached. It just went rolling into the ocean.”
He spent the next half hour searching for the GoPro — a camera that he purchased for $50 from his older brother — in the surf and on the beach, to no avail.
“I had no idea where it was,” he said.
Diemer lives in Pasagshak and walks the beach near the Pasagshak River's mouth every day with his dog. He has found beach treasures before but never a GoPro.
“We had a big storm here — big seas — and it must have got it moving and brought it up and put it right in front of me,” Diemer said. “The plastic lens that is built on the exterior box was all beat up. It looked like it had been rolling around in the sand.”
Diemer watched the footage on the memory card before returning the camera to Lickfield. There were also videos of Lickfield snowboarding and riding a motorcycle on the memory card.
“He wiped out. The next thing I know is the camera is going around in circles, and you can see light, then dark, then light, then dark. Finally, it went to the bottom,” Diemer said.
And that’s where it stayed for 11 years.
“It was like opening a time capsule,” said Lickfield when he watched the videos. “To be able to look at little me back then was really cool.”