Bright Side

A Guy Uses His Diving Skills to Search for Lost Treasure and Gives It Back to Their Owners

Mike Pelley (Merman Mike) is a scuba diver who’s been going into lakes and rivers since 2019 in order to find people’s lost treasure and clean up trash. The best part is that he does it for free and just can’t resist the happiness he sees in people when he hands over their long-lost valuables.

We at Bright Side were curious about his findings. So we interviewed him to learn more about his treasure hunting experience. We even have a bonus feature at the end that shows him in action.

Since he was young, Mike wanted to scuba dive. However, when he was 15 years old, he had a terrible accident just 2 days before the class started.

“After that, I kept making excuses about how I was too busy or I couldn’t afford it and I would tell myself, I’ll do it next summer. 12 years later, after I was inspired by a YouTuber, it looked like he was having so much fun and I was missing a lot. I made a plan and in a month I got my license.”

He’s been diving for valuables for a little more than a year now and it has been a dream come true for him.

He didn’t give up on his dreams and now he has a blast whenever he sticks his head underwater while at the same time, making someone else’s day. “It’s a win-win for everyone!” he added. He even dove into a lake to find a man’s wedding ring and he succeeded at his first try, even without a metal detector.

When we asked him to name the most special treasure he found, he said, “It’s difficult to choose just one. There’s so much mystery that comes along with the treasure I find.”

“But since I’m choosing, there are 2 finds that were, in a way, a lot different and interesting from the others. The first one is a Voodoo doll that I found taped around a rock at the bottom of a river. My girlfriend told me not to take it home, but I didn’t listen.

A couple of weeks later, my truck ended up getting totaled in an accident while I was on the freeway, and it wasn’t my fault! She definitely blames the doll, but I think it was just poor timing. Either way, the Voodoo doll is still in my treasure room!”

“The next most interesting find was the day I was diving under a bridge and found a bag filled with brass copper and even silver-plated items, all wrapped individually inside articles of clothing. There was also a copper sheet that had a lot of writing in a different language that I’m trying to have translated because I feel like it would definitely shed some light on the mystery of why the bag was thrown into the river in the first place!”

“I don’t charge anyone to go out and try to find their valuables. I still need to work as an estimator to pay the bills. However, I have started my own brand and got monetized on YouTube, which will help me to bring in a little extra income so I can be able to put 100% of my time and efforts into helping more people.”

“I have found hundreds upon hundreds at this point. I actually have an entire room in my house called the treasure room.” There, he stores all the valuables he finds while he is searching for the owners or simply keeps finds that are too cool to just throw away.

“The most expensive valuable I have ever found was definitely the $17,000 ring I recovered from the Sacramento River. It looked like a Superbowl ring and was covered in diamonds. However, the monetary value was not the only thing that was special about it, its sentimental value was priceless. It belongs to a man’s brother who passed away. This man dropped it while he was on a boat.”

When he finds treasure, his priority is to find the owner. He takes a picture of the item and shares it on social media sites to find them. “After that, a bunch of kindhearted people start sharing it to try to help the stranger and we’re able to find them super-fast!”

An example of this was when he found a phone in the lake when he was diving for a wedding ring. Luckily, he managed to turn on the phone after many tries and found the woman and returned the phone. The woman’s happiness couldn’t be described because there was 5 years’ worth of photos and memories on there that she never managed to upload to the cloud.

If you plan to get into this hobby, Mike has great advice for you: “Please make sure to get your open water certification through a proper dive school, not just from your buddy in his pool,” he said. “Always pick up the trash too! It’s really not that much extra effort and it can end up making a huge impact if everyone did it just a little!”

Bonus: Merman Mike in action

What valuable thing have you lost in a lake or a river and how did it happen? Did you ever find it? Do you like diving and would you ever consider going underwater to find treasure and clean up trash?

Preview photo credit merman_mike / Instagram
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