Waratah Marine Search and Rescue (MSAR) members were called out on Monday after an “Unidentified Floating Object” appeared on the sand at the Waratah Bay Surf Beach.
It’s believed the vessel hit an iceberg and lost communication somewhere between South America and Antarctica, and has been lost at sea for over two years.
Waratah MSAR member Greg Moulding said the call was “one of the more unusual” he’d ever responded to.
“When I got to the beach last night, I thought we’d stumbled across something extraordinary but little did I know we’d solved a long-standing mystery.”
The drone was launched by a San Francisco based organisation to circumnavigate Antarctica to measure krill concentration.
Coronavirus restrictions is stopping the owner from retrieving it, but he’s relieved the vessel has finally been recovered.
“He was absolutely ecstatic that the vessel had been found and is hopeful that some of the data it has been collecting will be able to be retrieved,” Mr Moulding said.
“We will do our best and work together with some local teams to try and move it safely.”
The drone is estimated to weigh about 450 kilograms.
The vessel is now about six kilometres east of the Waratah Surf Life Saving Club and teams will attempt a retrieval when conditions are safe to do so.