Michael Pelley calls diving his "full time hobby," and for some his hobby has turned devastation into happiness.
When a woman named Jennie recently lost her wedding ring, valued at $9,500 on paper and priceless for her, she had to search for someone to help her get it back.
Jennie and her family were at Bass Lake, which is not far from one of the main entrances at Yosemite National Park in California. Pelley said she and her family were playing on a pad floating next to a dock on the lake.
When Jennie's child started to drift away from her she swam in that direction and felt her ring move on her finger, Pelley said.
But Jennie had to keep swimming, and that was when the ring fell off her hand and sank.
Jennie said she found Pelley on Instagram and he responded to her right away. He drove three and a half hours to the lake with his fiancé to help out.
Pelley documented his meeting with Jennie as they went to the lake to find the ring under water.
She said she believed the ring had fallen off her finger about 30 to 40 feet out from the dock.
Pelley didn't charge for his services.
"I'm just happy to help if I can!" Pelley said.
He submerged with a light and a metal detector to comb the floor of the lake, even as dirt and sediment clouding the water with every inch that he swam.
It made Pelley realize how "difficult the search was going to be" he wrote in a caption on a video he recorded of the dive.
He said the dive in man-made Bass Lake was his deepest ever, at 47 feet. His deepest before then was around 30-35 feet in the American River around Sacramento, he said.
"It is absolutely exhilarating every time I find someone's valuable, but this one was even more so because of how little chance I had of actually finding it," Pelley said of the dive in Bass Lake.
At around 10 minutes into a video Pelley took of the dive, with massive amounts of sediment clouding the water and his vision, the metal detector started to send out alerts. He had found the ring.
"I couldn't really believe I was looking at a diamond ring at first because I could have sworn it was just going to be another bottle top," he said. "So, after I realized what I was looking at I blew up with excitement!"
He said, "I had to try to calm myself down because I knew that I couldn't just shoot up to the surface. I would need to do a safety stop or two. I really didn't want to just drop the ring that I had just worked so hard to find, because my hands were shaking from both being so cold, and all the adrenaline coursing through me!"
"With dives that deep, and at [those] lengths of time, you should always make sure that you are taking a safety stop, which is where you stop for three minutes at 15 feet [intervals]," Pelley said. This helps dispel any built-up nitrogen in the bloodstream.
Once he made it back to the surface, Pelley was greeted with blue skies and cheers. "Oh my god!" someone was heard shouting. Jennie appeared very emotional when she was able to put the priceless ring back on again.
"Thank you guys so much from the bottom of my heart," Jennie said.
Pelley also found a mobile phone while he was at the bottom of the lake, that he hopes to be able to return to the owner.
"I'm always having a great time underwater, so if I can make someone's day, week, month or even year by returning their lost valuables, then it's a win-win!" he said.
Pelley said, "Plus, I never want someone that doesn't have extra money at the time to feel like they can't get ahold of me to try and help them out."
It took Pelley, who calls himself "Merman Mike" on Instagram, about an hour and a half on the dive to find the ring.
The ring had been at the bottom of the lake for about a week when he found it.
Pelley says when he's not working full time as an estimator for his father's construction company, he is diving to help people find their lost priceless objects.
Pelley says he likes to also clean up while he's on diving missions as well.
"I thoroughly believe you can't just go for the treasure, you have to get the trash too!" he said.
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