A body discovered in the depths of an underwater cave in Southern California may be that of a scuba diver who vanished two years ago, officials announced Monday.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of diving teams from several different agencies, retrieved the remains on Friday, just less than a week after they were initially spotted by recreational divers on the ocean floor of a cave system on Santa Cruz Island.

“The location of the recovery corresponds to a missing diver investigation from 2020,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Monday night.

While the body has not yet been officially identified, authorities believe it could be that of 34-year-old Ryder Sturt, of Port Hueneme, who seemingly vanished on Nov. 29, 2020. He was diving for lobsters with a partner in the Painted Cave Preserve area of the central California coastal island but failed to surface at one point during the outing, authorities previously said.

A body that was found in an underwater cave in Southern California may be that of a scuba diver who vanished two years ago, authorities said Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded to distressed radio calls from Sturt’s diving partner and launched a search that grew to involve several different law enforcement groups. Crews searched by both air and sky, but ultimately failed to locate Sturt, CBS Los Angeles reported at the time.

The body was transported to the Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau for further investigation and identification, and will undergo rapid DNA testing.

The sheriff’s office said Monday that they could have an official identification of the remains as soon as next week.

With News Wire Services

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