Tesla Spotted Mysteriously Floating in Ocean Waters Just off the California Shoreline

Time and tide wait for no car.

A Tesla was spotted floating in the ocean off the coast of California, proving that yes, a Tesla can float, but it really should not be made to do so. The Model Y was seen bobbing up and down in the waters off Carpinteria, California, with no passengers in the vehicle. "We *def* don't recommended this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time. Thrust via wheel rotation," Elon Musk previously tweeted. Here's how the car ended up alone in the ocean. 

Accidental Disaster

John Palminteri/Twitter

The Model Y Tesla was apparently accidentally driven onto the beach (which is not allowed). The owner may not have understood the danger he was in—when the tide came in, the car was swept out to sea. It was seen floating off the coast of Carpinteria, a popular beach town. The driver was nowhere to be seen at that point.

Spotted In the Ocean

John Palminteri/Twitter

Journalist John Palminteri first spotted the drifting car, and tweeted about it. "A Tesla was found floating in the ocean off Carpinteria this morning about 8 a.m. Firefighters searched the car along with the surrounding area, but no one was found. The Santa Barbara Co. Sheriff's Dept. is investigating. (photos: Carpinteria fire, Robin Karlsson, Bill Ehrgott)."

No Passengers

John Palminteri/Twitter

The Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District responded to calls about the car and found it floating in four feet of water. A rescue swimmer ensured no passengers were in the car or around it. The car had been swept into the water from Sand Point Road, a private road parallel to the ocean.

Driver Found


The Sheriff's Office traced the identity of the car's owner later the same day. According to Sheriff's spokesperson Raquel Zick, the driver "thought he would go driving on the beach and got stuck." It's not clear why the man abandoned his vehicle, but he is not facing charges, although he will have to figure out how to remove the car himself.

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The Beach Is Fine


Noah Tunney, a battalion chief with the Carpinteria-Summerland fire department, says no hazardous materials were spilled onto the beach during the incident. With very few exceptions, cars are not allowed on California beaches, and they are not allowed on the Carpinteria Salt Marshes.

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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