iPhone washes ashore after 460 days lost at sea: Owner was 'in shock that it still worked' after dog walker finds phone

Tracey Folly

A paddleboarder in the United Kingdom lost her iPhone in the ocean. Four hundred sixty days later, it washed ashore in perfect working condition.

It was August 4, 2021, when 39-year-old Clare Atfield went paddleboarding with her phone hanging from a lanyard around her neck. The phone was safely ensconced within a waterproof bag that had come with the paddleboard.

Atfield described falling off her paddleboard without realizing she'd lost her phone in the process.

I had been paddleboarding quite far out to sea, but I fell off my board. I got back on and kept going — but then realized I had lost my phone. It was quite far out to sea, but it was inside one of those phone protection cases which came with my paddleboard, so it must have sank and just stayed there.

The paddleboarder surmised the phone had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and that was the end of that. Or so she thought.

It was November 7, 2022, when a dog walker called Atfield with some surprising news. The phone had washed ashore in perfect working condition, albeit with the back smashed. Is it a testament to the durability of the iPhone or the effectiveness of the plastic case it was sealed inside?

Thanks to the waterproof case Atfield had received when she purchased her paddleboard, the iPhone had stayed safe from over a year of being submerged in the salty ocean water, which surely would have destroyed its inner workings.

The dog walker found the phone not far from where Atfield lost it over a year earlier along with her bank card and her mom’s medical card. The dog walker got in touch with her by calling the phone number on her mother's medical card. If not for her mother's medical card, who knows if Atfield would have been reunited with her phone at all?

Likewise, for its plastic case, which didn't float, but did manage to keep its contents dry and safe even after 460 days underwater:

You can get phone cases which do [float] though, so that will be my next port of call. I can’t believe it still works. The back of the phone is completely smashed, so you would have thought water would have got in. It’s mad he managed to find it. Both I and the gentleman who found it were completely in shock. I’m stunned more damage wasn’t caused to it, especially how rough the sea can get down there, it’s mad. I never thought I would have seen it again, or for it to be working.

In addition to being reunited with a perfectly working iPhone, her old bank card, and her mother's medical card, this is one paddleboarder who wound up with a great tale to tell all thanks to an honest dog walker and an impressively effective plastic phone case.

What would you do if you found a smashed iPhone on the shoreline? Would you toss it in the trash or track down its owner? Comments are welcome.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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