When most people lose a digital camera on a trip, that’s the end of the story. Usually after some intense searching, people resign to the depressing fate of their object. Vancouver artist Paul Burgoyne likely felt those emotions when he lost his compact camera in a shipwreck two years ago (emotions were probably running pretty high even if he didn’t lose the camera). Miraculously, the camera was recently discovered and returned to Burgoyne – with the memory card and its images intact.
As he was heading to his summer home in Tahsis, British Columbia, in 2012, Burgoyne lost the camera when his boat, called the Bootlegger, was shipwrecked during the sea voyage, more than 300 miles from Vancouver. Two years later, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) students Tella Osler and Beau Doherty were conducting research dives off Aguilar Point, where they stumbled onto Burgoyne’s Panasonic Lumix camera nearly 40 feet under the water. (The story was covered by CBC News and the brief report can be viewed below.)
After finding the sunken camera, the students turned it over to Isabelle M. Côté, professor of Marine Ecology at Simon Fraser University. According to Côté, there were multiple marine species living on and inside the camera when it was found. She carefully used a pair of tweezers to dislodge the camera’s Lexar 8GB memory card and amazingly, the card still worked.
Côté then posted an image from the card on Twitter, with hopes of finding the camera’s rightful owner. A member of the Bamfield Coast Guard, who rescued Burgoyne when he was shipwrecked, recognized the artist right away.
The picture is of Burgoyne and his family, as they scattered his parents’ ashes at the Lake of the Woods in Ontario. After seeing the picture, Burgoyne told CBC News that memories of the shipwreck came flooding back. “Right away I thought about that bliss that I felt when the ocean went calm and I was sitting at the back of the boat all by myself,” Burgoyne said. “I thought I had the boat on autopilot, but clearly I had made a mistake. The next thing, all hell was breaking loose.”
Burgoyne will never forget that fateful day two years ago, and thanks to a lucky discovery and some good Samaritans, he has the images to accompany his memories. In addition to the images on the card, the short video below is actual footage of what caused the Bootlegger to sink.
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