Human remains have been found in a sealed barrel found floating in San Diego Bay about 200 feet from the shore.

Police were alerted to the 55-gallon drum, which was attached to a cinder block, by a diver who was cleaning his boat and reported it as a navigational hazard to Harbour Police.

They were unable to locate the barrel but the diver told CBS 8 that he returned and went out on a dinghy two hours later. He noticed that the drum was clean, had a hazmat tag and appeared to be anchored to three concrete blocks.

When the drum was towed to the Chula Vista Marina, police noticed an unusual odour coming out and discovered the human remains.

"This is not normal," Chula Vista Police Department Captain Eric Thunberg told CBS 8. "We have a body crammed inside a barrel, that is not normal. Something went wrong."

Thunberg said the case is being treated as a homicide and noted that the age and gender of the victim are unclear. The medical examiner confirmed the human remains but did not reveal whether they belonged to a man or woman and the age.

"Certainly understand the need for closure for families and the hope; however, it's premature to even articulate who might [be] in the barrel," Thunberg said.

Albert Molina went to the marina on Thursday (12 October) concerned the body may belong to his friend, 28-year-old Omar Medina, who went missing around two weeks ago, Fox 5 reported.

"You want to hope for the best but two weeks not hearing from him or anything, you begin to wonder, is he still alive," Molina said. "We're praying. At this time we just want closure for the family, for the mom. We hope it's not him and we hope he's out there still."

According to Fox 5, authorities say there is no indication there is a link to Medina.

If the remains are not identified, police and the medical examiner's office will work together to check a missing persons database.