Meet Clayton Helkenberg, a Chilliwack free diver who has found 16 cellphones in BC’s lakes and rivers this year. Watch to find out how he returns them to their owners.
Free diver Clayton Helkenberg loves to explore the waters of British Columbia.
Professional free divers can hold their breath for up to 10 minutes. Helkenberg, however, says he’s not interested in testing the limits of holding his breath. His passion is hunting for hidden treasure and protecting the environment by clearing trash.
Free diving, also known as breath-hold diving, involves diving underwater without an oxygen tank.
Helkenberg says he finds scuba diving “a bit boring.” Free diving is more of a sport, he says, and more peaceful. The Chilliwack resident notes the sound of a scuba diving regulator can be “rather loud underwater.”
iPhones are one of the most common treasures Helkenberg finds in BC’s rivers and lakes.
Last year, he found 29 cellphones while free diving, and so far this year he has found 16. He says about 10% to 20% of the time the phones he finds still work and he’s often able to return them to their owners. He shares the stories of phones he finds and returns on his TikTok channel.
Helkenberg is also passionate about clearing trash from BC waters. Litter can be extremely harmful to local wildlife and the ecosystem.
While diving in Cultus Lake, in the Fraser Valley, Helkenberg was able to clear a large amount of broken glass from the lake bed, which might otherwise have been a danger to unsuspecting swimmers. Helkenberg says he is particularly concerned about the amount of potentially toxic litter he comes across. He has successfully removed a number of boat motors from lakes, which could have leaked dangerous pollutants, he says.
Helkenberg recommends free diving as a beautiful and challenging way to explore British Columbia. However, he suggests beginners seek professional training before attempting any form of diving.
“I don’t want to see anything getting hurt just trying to find a cool phone,” he said Vancouver Is Awesome.