updated 11/6/2007 9:01:50 PM ET 2007-11-07T02:01:50

A mummified body found in the Caribbean diving destination of Saba belonged to an intrepid American environmental consultant who has been missing for nearly a year, his ex-wife said.

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The body found last week in an abandoned sulfur mine was Joel D. Gove's, Amy Gonzales told The Trentonian for Tuesday's newspapers.

Gove, a 47-year-old world traveler who delighted in showing friends photos of the exotic places he visited, set out for Saba on Christmas last year.

The mountainous 5-square-mile (13-sq. kilometer) island southwest of Saint Maarten is part of the Netherlands Antilles and is popular with divers. It has only about 1,500 residents and receives about 25,000 tourists a year.

On Dec. 27, Gove set out for a hike near the abandoned mine. He was never seen alive again.

By mid-January, authorities in the island had halted their search for him after failing to find the Trenton man.

Gonzales said last week three hikers got lost in the same mine where Gove was last seen. Their flashlights were dying, and they were breathing in sulfur fumes, she said. The only light they had came only from a little key chain flashlight. The men stumbled through the darkness for a half-hour and stumbled across Gove's body.

"They're just lucky they didn't meet the same fate that Joel did," Gonzales said. "They had to get out."

They told authorities of finding Gove's body, and it was recovered.

Gonzales, who remained friends with her ex-husband after their divorce, and one of his co-workers, flew to the island last weekend after it was reported that Gove's body may have been found.

"It was pretty much as they said; it was pretty much mummified," she said. "You could recognize his clothes. And his hair was still there."

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