Australia’s whale-shaped underwater marine observatory will rise from the ocean


The design of the Australian Underwater Discovery Centre has been unveiled, after the public was encouraged to vote for their favorite. The successful design, a whale-shaped building, will be partially submerged in the sea and located two hours south of Perth.

The center aims to be Australia’s largest natural marine observatory, and will be situated at the end of Busselton Jetty, 2km out at sea. The underwater discovery center will come complete with an underwater trail and dining, and should give visitors a thrilling view of life below the sea’s surface. Construction is expected to begin in 2021, with the center open by December 2022.

The interior of Australia Underwater Discovery Centre
The Australian Underwater Discovery Centre is whale-shaped © Baca Architects

There were two other designs in contention for the $30 million center, aside from the ultimately victorious Cetacean design, which reflects the shape of a whale raising its head over Geographe Bay. The Rock was inspired in shape and colour by Castle Rock in western Australia, and the Voyage mimics the silhouette and lines of a ship moored against the pier. Baca Architects are the lead architects on the project. 

The interior of Australia Underwater Discovery Centre
Visitors will be able to see beneath the water © Baca Architects

The interior of the center has openings that act as the eyes of the whale in order for visitors to see beneath the water. They will be guided through art galleries and exhibition spaces on the way to the large observatory floor. “This is as authentic as it gets, because people are in the tank and the fish are looking in,” says Busselton Jetty chairman, Barry House. “By adding underwater dining, underwater sculptures, marine art and other features, this project will enhance Busselton Jetty’s 155-year-old experience.”

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US winter storm: Sea turtles rescued in Texas released back into ocean on slides | US News


Thousands of turtles have been released back into the sea after they were rescued during the winter storm that hit Texas and other southern states.

Last week, freezing temperatures cold-stunned the creatures and impacted their ability to swim or feed – resulting in a massive rescue mission to save them.

Now, video footage from Texas Sealife Centre shows the turtles being released down a wet slide into the Gulf of Mexico.

Image:
Thousands of turtles have been released back into the ocean. Pic: Sea Turtle Inc

The organisation cared for almost a thousand of the marine creatures after the storm brought record cold temperatures to the Lone Star State.

Jamie McWilliams from Texas Sealife Centre said around 200 turtles were released into the sea on Monday.

Another organisation, Sea Turtle Inc, also shared footage of thousands of sea turtles being released into the Gulf down blue wet slides.

It said that “thousands of community members bundled up and volunteered long hours” to aid in the rescue. “Many with no electricity, water, or warmth in their own homes still assisted Sea Turtle Inc.”

Residents, some of whom didn’t have heat or basic amenities in their own homes due to the unusually chilly weather, rescued the cold-stunned sea turtles and dropped them off at a convention centre last week.

Pic: South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
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Residents took car loads of the creatures to South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau in the hope of saving them

“Every 15 minutes or less there’s another truck or SUV that pulls up,” said Ed Caum, executive director of the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

He said people were bringing one or two sea turtles, and sometimes more. “We had trailers full… coming in that had 80, 100, 50,” he said.

The convention centre started receiving the turtles after its neighbour, Sea Turtle Inc, became overwhelmed with the numbers being brought in.

Pic: South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau
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There were fears some of the sea turtles would not survive

Mr Caum said they had “collected” more than 3,500 sea turtles, but said he hesitated to use the word rescued because “we know we’re going to lose some”.

The extreme winter weather prompted US President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster in Texas.

The state’s power grid was crippled due to the cold, and, despite Texas being rich in oil and gas, millions of residents were without power for days.

People wait in line to fill propane tanks Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Houston. Customers waited over an hour in the freezing rain to fill their tanks. Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Texas is not accustomed to such cold temperatures and was unprepared. Pic: AP

There have been major disruptions to water supply, with more than 1,200 public water systems having problems.

More than 7.9 million people in Texas in 202 counties were still having issues with their water supply as of Monday evening, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said.

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Australia to kill pigeon that crossed the Pacific Ocean from the United States


Celli-Bird said quarantine authorities called him on Thursday to ask him to catch the bird.

“They say if it is from America, then they’re concerned about bird diseases,” he said. “They wanted to know if I could help them out. I said, ’To be honest, I can’t catch it. I can get within 500 mil (millimetres) of it and then it moves.’”

He said quarantine authorities were now considering contracting a professional bird catcher.

The Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, said the pigeon was “not permitted to remain in Australia” because it “could compromise Australia’s food security and our wild bird populations.”

“It poses a direct biosecurity risk to Australian bird life and our poultry industry,” a department statement said.

Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe, after the US President-elect, hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific.Credit:AP

In 2015, the government threatened to euthanise two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet.

Pigeons are an unusual sight in Celli-Bird’s backyard in suburban Officer, where Australian native doves are far more common.

“It rocked up at our place on Boxing Day. I’ve got a fountain in the backyard and it was having a drink and a wash. He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him,” Celli-Bird said.

“Next day, he rocked back up at our water feature, so I wandered out to have a look at him because he was fairly weak and he didn’t seem that afraid of me and I saw he had a blue band on his leg. Obviously he belongs to someone, so I managed to catch him,” he added.

Celli-Bird, who says he has no interest in birds “apart from my last name,” said he could no longer catch the pigeon with his bare hands since it had regained its strength.

He said the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union had confirmed that Joe was registered to an owner in Montgomery, Alabama.

Celli-Bird said he had attempted to contact the owner, but had so far been unable to get through.

The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes sitting side-by-side with a native dove on a pergola. Celli-Bird has been feeding it pigeon food from within days of its arrival.

“I think that he just decided that since I’ve given him some food and he’s got a spot to drink, that’s home,” he said.

Australian National Pigeon Association secretary Brad Turner said he had heard of cases of Chinese racing pigeons reaching the Australian west coast aboard cargo ships, a far shorter voyage.

Turner said there were genuine fears pigeons from the United States could carry exotic diseases and he agreed Joe should be destroyed.

“While it sounds harsh to the normal person – they’d hear that and go: ‘this is cruel,’ and everything else – I’d think you’d find that A.Q.I.S. and those sort of people would give their wholehearted support for the idea,” Turner said, referring to the quarantine service.

It is claimed that the greatest long-distance flight recorded by a pigeon is one that started at Arras in France and ended in Saigon, Vietnam, back in 1931, according to pigeonpedia.com. The distance was 11,600 kilometres and took 24 days.

There are some known instances of long-distance flights but whether these are one-offs performed by the marathon runners of the pigeon world or they are feats that could be achieved by the average pigeon is not known.

AP

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Mitch Marsh flips East Freo investment property with ocean and city views for $1.59m, Agar and Richardson upgrade


Mitch Marsh.Credit:AAP

The 1970s-built house is prime for a renovation or to be knocked down for a new build.

Property prices in East Fremantle have remained steady for the past 10 years but the suburb saw growth of about 3.9 per cent over the past year.

The median house price for the area has increased to $1.19 million from $1.08 million over the past five years.

Marsh sold his Bicton house a few years ago for $2.38 million, as he upgraded to a beachside Cottesloe home he picked up for $2.75 million in late 2018.

The all-rounder signed on to another four years with the Scorchers on Monday and will have played 14 seasons with the club by the end of the contract.

“We’ve been a very successful club over a long period of time, the support we get from our fans is incredible, so it was an easy decision to sign on for another four years,” Marsh said.

Fellow Scorcher Jhye Richardson and Ashton Agar were both active in the property market last year with the settlement of new homes in September.

Fast bowler Richardson bought a four bedroom, two bathroom house on a five acre block in Banjup for $1.215 million.

The property also features a solar heated swimming pool, rainwater tank, newly built self-contained granny flat, and a home theatre set-up featuring a projector.

Jhye Richardson has bought a large home on a five acre block in Banjup.

Jhye Richardson has bought a large home on a five acre block in Banjup.Credit:Semple Property Group

Agar meanwhile has put up his Scarborough town house for rent, at $650 per week, after buying a $2.25 million home in the ritzy suburb of Dalkeith.

The three bedroom home features a tennis court and a pool.

Ashton Agar's new home in Dalkeith features a tennis court.

Ashton Agar’s new home in Dalkeith features a tennis court.Credit:Mack Hall Real Estate

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Boeing 737 plane with 62 people on board feared to have crashed into the ocean off Indonesia


An Indonesian budget airline plane with 62 people on board is suspected to have crashed into the sea shortly after the Boeing passenger jet took off from Jakarta airport on Saturday, authorities said. 

Flight tracking data showed the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport.

Sixty-two passengers and crew were on board, including 10 children, the nation’s transport minister, Budi Karya Sumadi, told reporters.

The suspected crash site is near tourist islands just off the coast of Indonesia’s sprawling capital.

This flight path of Indonesian Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 before it dropped off radar, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

AP/Flightradar24.com

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 was bound for Pontianak on Indonesia’s section of Borneo island, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.

The plane took off on Saturday afternoon and a search and rescue operation began with no official results available on Saturday night.

“We deployed our team, boats and sea riders to the location suspected to be where it went down after losing contact,” Bambang Suryo Aji, a senior official at the search-and-rescue agency, told reporters after nightfall.

Sudden plunge

Data from FlightRadar24 said the plane reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 metres) before dropping suddenly to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

“Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,” the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.

Broadcaster Kompas TV quoted local fishermen as saying they had found debris near islands just off the coast of the capital Jakarta, but it could not be immediately confirmed as having belonged to the missing jet.

Authorities and the airline gave no immediate indication as to why the plane suddenly went down.

But transport minister Mr Sumadi said the jet appeared to deviate from its intended course just before it disappeared from radar.

Relatives of passengers arrive at a crisis centre at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang

Relatives of passengers arrive at a crisis centre at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement offering his “sincere condolences” over the incident.

The budget airline, which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, said only that it was investigating the loss of contact.

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

That crash – and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia – saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion USD in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes. 

The Boeing jet thought to have crashed Saturday is not a MAX model and was 26 years old, according to authorities.

 

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation,” the US-based planemaker said in a statement.

“We are working to gather more information.”

Indonesia’s aviation sector has long suffered from a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed with the loss of 162 lives.

Domestic investigators’ final report on the AirAsia crash showed a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance and the pilots’ inadequate response were major factors in what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

A year later, in 2015, more than 140 people, including people on the ground, were killed when a military plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Medan on Sumatra island.

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Ocean Farms residents wait for a miracle as tough fire conditions bring flames to their doorstep


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Mr Burke said changing winds, virgin bushland, and paddocks with a high fuel load surrounding Ocean Farms made fighting the flames extremely difficult for crews.

The lack of road access to parts of the area was also a challenge, he said, forcing firefighters to take vehicles off-road through dirt tracks and bushland.

“The country at the back is shocking, it’s soft black sand and it’s hard for four-wheel-drives to get anywhere,” he said.

The bushfire, which started near the intersection of Mogumber Road an Brand Highway in Red Gully, has been burning since Saturday across the greater Shire of Gingin.

Up to 200 firefighters and 13 aircraft were called on Tuesday to battle the flames, which razed through 9000 hectares of land and forced nearly 300 residents to evacuate their homes.

The fire started on Saturday. Credit:Evan Collins.

As of 5pm on Tuesday, the flames were moving at about 3 kilometres per hour in the direction of Ocean Farms, fanned by gusts of easterly and north-easterly winds, putting homes at risk.

Footage captured by locals east of Lancelin showed dark plumes of smoke rising thick into the afternoon air behind the sand dunes as the fire inched closer to Ocean Farms.

Rachael Hains-Wesson and her family were among 270 residents evacuated from Ocean Farms.

The Sydneysider had travelled to WA from New South Wales for the beachside trip of a lifetime with her family, but she is now facing the prospect of losing her dream holiday home instead.

Dr Hains-Wesson and her husband bought a home in Oceans Farms at the height of the pandemic and were visiting the property for the time when the fire struck.

“We looked in the horizon and I said to my husband, that smoke has gotten a lot darker and is looking a lot closer to where we are,” Dr Hains-Wesson said.

“My husband started to say ‘this is serious, you need to pack your stuff, I’m getting the car and you need to come’. All of a sudden we got a text saying you need to leave now your life is at risk.”

Rachael Hains-Wesson had come to WA to visit her new holiday home when the fire struck.

Rachael Hains-Wesson had come to WA to visit her new holiday home when the fire struck. Credit:Nine News Perth

It was after scrambling to find the family cat and jump in the car on the way to Guilderton that the family realised the extent of the emergency.

“As we were driving about 10 kilometres outside of Lancelin my son in the back goes ‘Mum, I can see the fire from here and it’s huge’,” she said.

“We stopped the car, looked out and no joke, we could see across the horizon just huge flames, heaps of smoke and I thought how are we going to contain something like this? It’s massive.”

Away from the path of the fire, Matthew Penrose felt optimistic firefighters would get the blaze under control but packed his four-wheel-drive with essentials just in case.

“We’ve got the pool ready for the helicopters and stuff to go. The truck’s packed so if we need to we’ll get out of here. We’ll just keep an eye on it,” he said.

“We’ve had sprinklers going and the tanks going, we’ve flooded everything, all our veggies, our mango trees.”

Air crews battle the flames in the Shire of Gingin.

Air crews battle the flames in the Shire of Gingin. Credit:Nine News Perth

Mr Penrose said he planned to head straight out to the beach in his car if the flames got too close.

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting extremely hot and dry conditions for the week, which are expected to fuel the unpredictability of a fire threat in the area.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters said climate change had caused fires to burn with the same intensity into the evenings, whereas before firefighters would get a lull or reprieve with cooling conditions.

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Pro surfer rushes into ocean near Oahu to make dramatic rescue


As people ran toward the water, he grabbed his phone and started filming to document her rescue. But he realized it soon might be too late to help her.

So Wright handed his phone and beer to his wife, took off his shirt, hopped a fence and sprinted toward the water.

Within minutes, Wright had pulled the woman out from the water, with help from other bystanders on the beach, his sister’s guidance and their lifesaving surfing experience.

After posting a video of the dramatic rescue to his Instagram account, Wright has been hailed a hero. The surfer said he was just in the “wrong place at the right time.”

“I didn’t question if I was in danger,” Wright, 24, told ABC’s “World News Tonight” over Zoom Saturday. “I just knew that she needed help.”

Wright, an Australian currently in Hawaii for surf competitions, was on Oahu’s North Shore, a stretch popular among surfers due to its big waves.

The woman had been taking a video from dry rocks, Wright said, when a “freak” 15-foot wave dragged her out into the ocean.

“This lady was in a very tricky situation,” Wright said. “Even for a confident person in the water, that’s not somewhere you want to be.”

Wright said he assessed how to best approach the woman to avoid the jagged volcanic rocks and 15-foot swells. His sister, who followed him to the water, also helped alert him to when waves were “doubling up.”

“We had to jump over it, because when a wave doubles up like that, it’s got the force of two waves,” he said. “It has like double the strength.”

Once they were back on the sand, Wright and his sister checked to make sure the woman was OK and wasn’t knocked around or cut up too much. Luckily, she mostly just had a graze on her wrist, while he made it out with only some scratches down his back, Wright said.

“We came out pretty, pretty lucky,” he said.

By that point, the woman’s son had also joined them and thanked him for saving her, Wright said.

“We stayed there for a little while just to make sure she was OK,” Wright said. “She was just very thankful.”

“I think she knew she was in a bad situation,” he added.

Wright fittingly captioned the video of the rescue on his Instagram account with “Hold my beer.” In the first part of the footage, several people can be seen running to help the woman as she struggles in the water.

“They’re going to get saved,” Wright says, before handing the phone to his wife.

“You can’t save him,” someone can be heard saying off-camera, as Wright is then seen running toward the water himself.

In the second part of the video, Wright can be seen jumping in the surf. He reaches the woman and starts to bring her toward the shore as waves continue to crash into them. After one final wave, they’re out of harm’s way, as several others come to their aid.

Pro surfers praised Wright following the rescue.

“You’re a living legend!” Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau wrote in the comments, while Jessi Miley-Dyer teased, “Who needs a cape when you have a mullet.”

Others offered a warning.

“This lady is so lucky to be alive,” the North Shore Lifeguard Association said on social media. “The North Shore surf can sweep up and grab you at any time. Please be careful!”



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Queensland yachtie flung from boat clung to ocean beacon for three hours

Queensland yachtie flung from boat clung to ocean beacon for three hours

A man has described how he clung to a water beacon for three hours after his yacht ran aground off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

David Simpson, 64, was found two-and-a-half kilometres from his vessel, which got into trouble off Caloundra towards the northern tip of Bribie Island.

The bost was found with the motor still running – and only a dog on board.

Yachtsman David Simpson was rescued from a marine beacon. (Nine)
Mr Simpson was rescued from a beacon in the ocean. (Nine)

Mr Simpson said he was flung into the water when a strong wave hit.

“The wave hit the side of the boat and I was trying to secure the dinghy which had come a little bit adrift and a rope broke holding the dinghy,” he told Today.

“The dinghy hit me, my ribs and I fell about 2.5, 3m, off the boat.”

Mr Simpson was found on a marine beacon by rescuers. (Nine)

He managed to make it to the beacon, and watched his boat- with his dog aboard- float away.

It was found by another boater, and a search was launched by sea and air.

He was found three hours later.

Ian Hunt, commander of the Mooloolaba Coast Guard said Mr Simpson was lucky he found the beacon.

The yacht was found with just a dog on board. (Nine)

He was spotted by one of the three helicopters involved in the search after climbing onto it via the ladder on the side.

“He’s a very lucky man to be able to get to that beacon,” he told Today.

“He’s a little stressed this morning anxious to get his boat off the beach.”

He has been reunited with his dog, which was rescued from the boat.

“My understanding is the dog is back with the master now, ” Mr Hunt, said.

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Man found clinging to marine beacon in ocean after boat runs aground on Sunshine Coast


A man has been found clinging to a marine beacon in waters off Caloundra on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast after his boat ran aground.

Emergency services were alerted to a 13-metre yacht that had run aground on a sand bar, between the northern tip of Bribie Island and Caloundra shortly after 4:00pm on Tuesday.

Lifeguards on a nearby beach also noticed the vessel washed up in shallow waters, sparking an extensive air and sea search in nearby waterways.

A dog was found on board the vessel, which had its motor still running, but no people were located inside.

The man, who had been reported missing earlier in the day, was later found some 2.5 kilometres off Bribie Island clinging to a marine beacon in the ocean at 7:00pm.

The Caloundra Coastguard said the man had fallen several metres from his vessel while trying to secure something on the boat.

He later swam just under 2 kilometres to a beacon, climbed up a ladder and waved to a nearby ship for help.

A Queensland police spokesperson said the man had gone “overboard and swam to a marine beacon before flagging down a boat”.

Man fell into ocean while adjusting rope

Senior Constable Murray Lyons from Sunshine Coast Water Police said a search began after the boat was found still running with a dog and a phone onboard.

“We called in volunteer marine rescue… [we were] running about six or seven boats and two helicopters… and advised all the shipping in the area,” he said.

Senior Constable Lyons said rescue teams spent some two and half hours scouring the ocean before before a ship spotted a man waving his arms on the top of a water beacon.

“He had fallen off the boat while trying to adjust a rope… the boat kept going,” he said.

“He’s fine, although he has had quite a swim… he’s a bit sore around the ribs where he hit the water.”

Senior Constable Lyons reminded anyone onboard a boat in open water to wear a life jacket.

Police say the man has not suffered any significant injuries.

Queensland Water Police will now work to remove the boat from the Bribie Island beachfront.



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Firefighter reunited with ring turned up by landscaper 13 years after being flung into ocean


A firefighter has finally been reunited with a long-lost commemorative ring which resurfaced from its marine hiding place thanks to the labours of a dedicated metal detectorist, who recently told his story to the ABC.

Landscaper and semi-professional detectorist Bruce Phillips was recently scouring the sands of Henley Beach along Adelaide’s coast when he made the discovery.

After putting a call out on social media, he eventually tracked down the rightful owner — Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) firefighter Justin Ocenasek, who was enjoying a Christmas break when he got an unexpected call.

“I received a phone call from a friend of mine … and he said, ‘Have you checked your work emails?’,” Mr Ocenasek said.

“He said you’ll probably want to check them because there’s a gold ring that someone’s trying to return.

“You could have blown me over with a feather.”

The gold ring is embossed with a firefighter’s helmet.(ABC News: Luke Radford)

Mr Ocenasek said the hand-forged gold graduation ring was one of two made.

He lost the ring when he accidentally flung it off as he was throwing a ball back to his mates at Henley Beach in 2007.

Ironically, Mr Ocenasek had been wearing the item — which had been intended for his middle finger — on his ring finger, because of an injury sustained playing football.

“Of all the unlikely things that have occurred this year … I don’t want to be cheesy and say the words ‘Christmas miracle’,” he said.

“In no way did I think I was ever going to find it. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where it would be found.”

‘Coolest reunion I’ve had’

The ring was today hand delivered to a delighted Mr Ocenasek at the MFS headquarters in Adelaide by Mr Phillips.

A firefighter holding up a gold ring.
Firefighter Justin Ocenasek is reunited with his SAMFS ring which he lost 13 years ago.(ABC News: Luke Radford)

The detectorist said while it was an “amazing” find, such discoveries were surprisingly common.

“It’s always rewarding when you can hand something back to someone,” Mr Phillips said.

“The best part about it is it’s MFS — obviously these guys put themselves on the line for us.

“How often does it happen? Fairly frequently with new rings. Exceptionally rare with ones that have been in the water for such a long time.”

He added it was “definitely the coolest reunion I’ve had”.

A close-up of two hands shaking, including one with a gold ring.
The gold-ringed handshake that sealed the reunion.(ABC News: Luke Radford)

Mr Ocenasek said he was “not going to risk fate twice” and vowed to store it under lock and key.

“It’s a very sentimental ring, it means a lot to me,” he said.

“It’s going in a locked box in a safe … I’m really glad there are people like Bruce out there.

“It’s been lovely to meet a good person.”

But Mr Phillips issued a tongue-in-cheek word of warning.



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