By Hannah McFadyen
This amazing modern day treasure hunter has pulled thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics from the depths of the rivers her scours.
Dallas Vega, 28, found a distinct lack of precious gold and silver coins but has his sights set on a more modern booty.
The Arizonian has managed to pull over 100 phones and multiple Go Pros and cameras from the bottoms of the rivers he combs – even once finding a gun.
Since finding his first GoPro camera in 2014, he’s been filming his exploits and putting them on his YouTube channel Man + River – which now has a fan base of over 200,000.
He said: “You wouldn’t think it but the phones I find often do actually work. Sometimes they’re in a waterproof case, but if they’re not I pull out the sim tray and dry it out and try it in a few days.
“I like to try and contact the owners of the phones and return them – that’s the most fun part of the job, to see the look on their face when they get the phone back – it’s awesome.
“Recently we went up to a waterfall and the water was so clear that underneath waterfalls I spotted a phone that had been down there for about a year and a half and it was still working!
“Over the years I must have pulled out about 100 phones, about 15 Go Pros, 50 sets of keys and about 10 wallets.
“These are just the most exciting things though; I’ve also found about 500 pairs of sunglasses – they’re the most common thing to find.
“I have garbage bags full on sunglasses, my wife wants me to throw them away but I usually try and give them away to people at my work.
It’s not easy to spot the hidden tech treasures though – but after four years, Dallas has developed a talent for spotting the gadgets amongst the weeds.
“I think when you’ve been doing it for so long you start to recognise the shapes. People wonder how I manage to see that an item was there and I guess it just comes with a lot of practise.
“There’s lots of disappointing and strange things I find too – once I pulled out a little plastic bag and inside it was just a totally dry sandwich – so I asked my friend if he was hungry!
“The craziest find I ever had was a gun: it was in a military bag and I went through the bag and I was pulling everything out and first I pulled out a bullet, and the last thing was a gun. I could not believe it.
“It still worked, there was very little rust on it – I ended up turning it into the police, they still have it in the evidence locker.
For Dallas the fascination in hunting for treasure started when he was a teenager and he managed to find a set of keys at the bottom of a river.
“I remember when I was about 14 or 15 and I was with a group of friends and we were on a river just floating on a raft and hanging out.
“Eventually everyone went back to shore, but I dived into the river and managed to find a bunch of keys.
“I thought it was pretty cool, but I never got into it properly until a few years ago and now I go out there with my brother in law and friend. I found a GoPro and then started filming my hunt 2014.
It’s not just about the thrill of finding these modern treasures, there’s also the fitness and environmental benefits.
“One of the nicest things about it is the work out. I live a pretty sedentary lifestyle because I sit at work and at home I run an audio-engineering company – and this is the only exercise I get.
“It’s nice because I get to clean up the river and exercise. It helps the environment and it’s how I keep myself fit.
“People often don’t realise that it’s actually a big workout – just to give you an idea of how physical it is – I can be in freezing cold water, but because I’m swimming so hard against the current I don’t feel the cold at all.”