The ultimate image rescue: Shipwrecked camera still holds photos after two years beneath the sea


posted Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 3:18 PM EST


Over the years, we've heard some pretty amazing stories of cameras lost and then reunited with their owners here at the Imaging Resource news desk. Probably our favorite until now was the Nikon Coolpix L18 which survived 18 months afloat on a thousand-mile voyage from Aruba to Florida -- complete with an accidental video filmed by a sea turtle mid-voyage. But another lost-and-found story that came to our attention today might just be our new favorite.

Vancouver artist Paul Burgoyne's lost camera might not match the Aruba cam for distance traveled or photos captured by the wildlife along the way, but it's even more interesting for the story it tells. That's because unlike many of the lost cameras we hear about, this one didn't simply slip out of grasp while snorkeling, or fall overboard while craning for an interesting shot. Burgoyne lost his camera in much more dramatic fashion -- along with his 30-foot trawler boat, the Bootlegger.

Burgoyne found himself in heavy seas, as video from the rediscovered camera shows. An hour later, his boat was on the ocean floor.

Just an hour after he shot the last photo with his camera near the coast of Vancouver Island, Burgoyne found himself shipwrecked, the victim of either a failed autopilot or a simple mistake. Thankfully, a team from the nearby Bamfield Coast Guard station reached him in time to effect a rescue, but both boat and camera weren't so lucky. And there the story paused for two long years, with the camera -- we believe it's a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 or its overseas equivalent, the DMC-TZ10 -- some 40 feet beneath the waves, rapidly being colonized by marine life.

And so things remained until earlier this month, when university students Tella Osler and Beau Doherty and and Safety Officer Siobhan Gray of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre discovered the camera on a research dive, and brought it back to the surface. Although it was well past the point of no return, the 8GB Lexar Platinum II memory card inside was still working, and contained not only photos and video from the day of the sinking, but also shots from a wedding -- one of which included Burgoyne.

BMSC's Dr. Isabelle Côté tweeted news of the discovery, and in a matter of days the identity of the camera's owner was confirmed, courtesy of a sharp-eyed member of the Coast Guard station who remembered -- and recognized -- Burgoyne from the rescue two years earlier. The Lexar SD card, which Burgoyne described as "an amazing bit of technology" in an interview with Canada's CBC, has since been returned to him, and along with it his irreplaceable photos -- not just from the wedding, but also from a ceremony to scatter his parents' ashes.

It's an all-around great story, as we're sure you'll agree -- even if there were no turtle self-portraits this time around. Read more -- and see some amazing shots of the camera after two years beneath the sea -- in the CBC article!

(via PetaPixel)