A group of Blacktip Island recreational scuba divers on the Caribbean island’s Alpine Wall Wednesday discovered the coral-encrusted remains of a diver who died there years ago in unusual circumstances.
Nicknamed “Wally,” after where he was found, the body was protected from decay by a fast-growing fire coral, leaving the remains in a mummified state, experts said.
Divers found the body face down, with a prominent spear wound in the back of his left shoulder. Other wounds on the body indicate he was involved in a physical altercation shortly before his death.
Island police were called, but quickly turned the remains over to the island’s scientific community.
“What we have is a diver who died suddenly, violently,” Tiperon University-Blacktip archeology professor Kraft Leakey said. “Initial radiocarbon tests date the remains to between 3,760 and 3940 BCE. If that date is correct, this could rewrite the history of scuba diving.
“Last year we discovered what appeared to be a Neocorallic Age scuba resort, but that theory was poo-pooed by archaeologists and scuba training agencies alike,” Leakey said. “This find, dating to the same period, gives that theory new legs, though.”
Other testing has provided clues to Wally’s final hours.
“Our scans show significant levels of nicotine and hot pepper residue on Wally’s skin, suggesting he visited a public house before his fatal dive,” TU-B pathologist Christina Mojarra said. “His stomach contents include charred meat, a fried starch and ethyl alcohol, all consumed an hour before his death.
“We surmise he was in an altercation at the pub and fled underwater in an unsuccessful attempt to escape his pursuers,” Mojarra said.
Island police agreed.
“This was definitely foul play,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “You don’t just stab yourself in the back. That’s what friends are for. Especially on this island.
“He probably lost a bar bet and didn’t pay up,” Marquette said. “Or stole someone’s girlfriend. Some things on Blacktip never change.”
Island business entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are hoping the find will attract more tourists to the island.
“We’ve got blueprints for a Wally visitors center and museum,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “Once the pointy-headed geeks get through with him, we’ll put him and all his gear where everyone can see. For a fee.
“It’ll be a tasteful affair in keeping with Blacktip Island’s natural beauty,” Skerritt said. “We’re calling it the Wallyplex.”