Photos Discovered From Camera Lost at Sea

Aug 17, 2020Leo Chiu

There's just something special about things that are lost and found... and more so if they actually bear sentimental values. This time, a camera was found buried in the seabed - but it wasn't just an old discarded camera, as it came with different surprises... read on to discover what's so special about this camera.

It All Began With a Research...

Image Credits: Pixabay/Hubert Pelikan/For Illustrative Purpose

It was May 13, 2014 - a sunny day. The sea was calm, and the water was clear... on the surface at least. A research team from the Marine Ecology Department at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, decided to head out into the deep water to conduct research. Still, they found something more than they hoped for... 


The Divers

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department

Those who carried out the task in the water were Beau Doherty and Tella Osler, two students from said university. They were out on a mission, as part of their research. It was not their first time diving into the water to get the job done, and the task itself was a rather mundane one... 

The Purpose of the Research 

Image Credits: Pixabay/Sophia Hilmar/For Illustrative Purpose

When the divers went into the water, they were there for something specifically - they came from the Marine Ecology Department, and the purpose of their research was to look at the sea stars scattered over the seafloor, lurking deep beneath the surface. They also planned to take some samples back for research purposes. However, something else caught their eyes...

A Leather Belt... and More

Image Credits: Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures/For Illustrative Purpose

It was Beau Doherty who first noticed something strange wedged into the seafloor - he pointed it out to fellow divers, and they were both intrigued as to what was hidden there... after all, it appears to be something manmade, with square edges and a leather belt attached to it... what could that be? 

What is That?

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department/Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre/Isabelle M. Côté

Determined to remove any manmade trash from the seafloor, Doherty decided to pull that out and discard that thing properly - whatever that is. He began pulling it out... it took a little bit of effort, but then he realized what it was... he began to notice a camera lens, old and corroded... it was a camera! 

What Happened to it?

Image Credits: Pixabay/skeeze/For Illustrative Purpose

After discovering that it was a camera, they put it in their dive bag and went on with their research. However, certain thoughts struck the divers... what happened to the camera? Why was it there wedged into the seafloor? Could there be a story behind it...? Instead of discarding it as trash, they brought the camera to shore. 

Curiosity Struck 

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department/Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre/Siobhan Gray

While recalling the incident, Professor Isabelle M. Côté said in an interview, “One of [the divers] picked it up and put it in his pocket and kept counting the starfish... When they came up from the dive, he said, ‘Look what I found.” Now, everyone is intrigued, and curiosity took ahold of them - they were all determined to discover the story behind.

It's More Than a Camera

Image Credits: Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre

The camera also caught one person's attention - Côté’s co-professor, Siobhan Gray. However, it wasn't really about the camera itself, but rather, how the organisms were growing on the camera's surface. Being a dedicated academic, she decided to get to the bottom of the barrel... 

A Small Ecosystem 

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department/Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre/Isabelle M. Côté

Upon opening up the camera, Gray made an astonishing discovery - apart from the surface, the organisms also made their way to the interior of the camera! All over the circuit boards and chips, algae, and brittle stars were found living inside of the camera! But then, Gray discovered something else there as well... 

Something Survived

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department/Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre/Siobhan Gray

What Gray discovered was a memory card - yes, the memory card inside the camera survived. The camera didn't make it, of course, after being corroded by all the elements lurking in the water, but somehow the memory card survived. And the team was determined to look into it and discover the story behind the lost camera... 

The Preparation 

Image Credits: Pixabay/Michael Schwarzenberger/For Illustrative Purpose

So, the team decided to do every precaution before inserting the memory card into the card reader - you don't just pick up something buried in the seabed and plug it into the computer. They wiped the grimes and dirt off the card carefully and cleaned it nicely with rubbing alcohol and other things... then it's the moment of truth, when they inserted the card into the card reader... 

It Worked! 

Image Credits: Twitter/Isabelle Côté - Paul Burgoyne

The content survived! They were able to discover some photos and videos on the memory card. While not everyone was comfortable with going through someone else's private photos, they were determined to locate the original owner, and they can only do so by looking through the photos. As it turns out, the photos were mostly taken in July 2012... now it's one step closer to bringing them back to its rightful owner. 

Looking for Help

Image Credits: Pixabay/Thomas Ulrich/For Illustrative Purpose

But the world is a very big place, with billions of people around, it's difficult to locate the actual owner of the photos. They were baffled at first, unsure of how are they going to locate the owner, as none of them could recognize the people in the photos, so they did what everyone living in the 2010s would do - seeking help from social media. 

Change of Tactics 

Image Credits: Simon Fraser University/Marine Ecology Department/Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre/Siobhan Gray

Well, unlike other modern-day fairy tales, social media didn't do wonder this time. So the team had to look for other ways to try and establish contact with the owner. Seeing that it was discovered not that far off the coast, they decided to go the old fashioned way and started putting out flyers... and it wasn't long before someone from the local Coast Guard recognize the man in the photos - it was a man called Paul Burgoyne.

The Mystery was Solved

Image Credits: Paul Burgoyne

Luckily, after multiple contacts and communications, they were able to get in touch with Paul Burgoyne, the owner of the camera and its content - and for Paul, it was a great relief when he got the photos back, for they bear special meanings for him. As it turns out, most of the photos taken on that camera came from the day hen he and his family had scattered his late mother’s ashes. It was a memory of a farewell...seemingly lost forever along with the ashes. However, through miraculous circumstances, he is now able to see the photos again, treasuring the last memories he had with his late mother. 

Strange, isn't it? Who would have thought that a lost camera can have that many stories behind? Well, next time, if you go diving, you might be able to find something similar as well! Most likely a GoPro or something. What do you think of this story? If you enjoyed reading this, why not share it with your friends and family? 

You May Also Like