Divers find a camera 40 feet under sea, but when they learn the story behind the photos, they’re stunned0
Beau Doherty and Tella Osler are marine biology students who often explore the ocean floor, studying starfish and other fascinating aquatic life. But on one adventure, they came across something that clearly did not belong. It was covered in algae and rusted like an antique, but they looked closer—and realized it was a digital camera.
The students were on research dives near Bamfield off the coast of Vancouver, so one of them picked it up, put it in his pocket, and continued his work.
“They were about 40 feet down and they came across this camera,” Isabelle M. Cote, professor of Marine Ecology at Simon Fraser University, and one of the two professors overseeing the dive, told ABC News.
Cote and co-professor Siobhan Gray were fascinated by the number of creatures growing on it—specimen “from two kingdoms & at least 7 phyla”—but more surprising was that the photos on the camera were salvageable.
“My first thought about the camera was, are there still images on the card?” said Gray. “I cleaned the contacts of the [memory card], put it in my computer and it worked.”
They popped it open and poked around with tweezers, and were surprised to see that the 8 GB memory card was intact, and, with a bit of cleaning, totally functional.
There were a number of photos and videos on the card from the year 2012. They were images of family get-togethers, many by the sea.
“It was full of photographs and a couple of videos, and we saw the very last thing that had been recorded was on July 30, 2012,” Cote said. “There were lots of photos of groups of people, like a family reunion.”
Cote posted a couple of the photos to social media, hoping to be able to reunite the card with its owner so the family could have its memories back.
When that didn’t work, she printed out the images and posted them around town—Brimfield has a population of about 250 households—hoping someone would recognize members of the family.
It worked—a local Coast Guard told her that he recognized one of the men in the photo. He had saved him from a shipwreck in 2012.
With that information to go on, they tracked down the shipwrecked man, Paul Burgoyne, an artist in the Vancouver area. He had been sailing to his summer home when the weather turned bad, and he crashed into some rocks. He was stranded and hypothermic, but the Coast Guard had rescued him hours later.
He had lost hundreds of things in the crash and never thought he would be reunited with any of them again.
When the professors returned his camera, he told everyone about why this last memory was so special and irreplacable.
The photos taken weren’t of just another family reunion, he explained. They had gathered together to spread his mother and father’s ashes by the sea.
“That was a group family photo from that event,” he said. “Getting the camera, or the photos back, that’s really quite wonderful.”
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