It was just another day at work for Michael Colavito.
The Toms River Parks and Public Lands employee was installing dune fencing along the beach in the township’s Ortley Beach section earlier this week when he stumbled upon something unusual.
“As we were working, I noticed something sticking out of the dune in front of the newly constructed lifeguard station,” he said, referring to the emergency sand berm installed last week that was battered by rough surf during the no-name nor’easter.
Colavito discovered an antique film reel, and understanding the nature of sand, he decided to take action.
“I grabbed it before it got buried ‘again,'” he said, adding that the film was “definitely buried in the beach somewhere [because] there was sandy and shells stuck inside the tin casing.”
At home, he inspected the reel, describing it as “half missing” and the film as “very flimsy and peeling.”
Understanding the uniqueness of his discovery and that someone might be missing the treasure, Colavito knew that he had to attempt to snap a photo of a frame to share on social media.
The opening scene is of a well-dressed couple exiting a house and walking toward the camera.
“It took me a while to find a full frame to take a picture of,” he said, alluding to the film’s poor condition. “I had to use two iPhones, a shot glass, and a small camera lens to get nice and close.”
The remainder of the film “seems pretty intact,” he says, “except for one edge where it might have been resting in the sand for so long.”
Colavito will seek out a professional to transfer the film digitally.