05/22/2014 04:55 EDT | Updated 07/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Shipwrecked Camera Found Underwater After 2 Years - With Photos Intact

A camera lost in a shipwreck off the west coast of Vancouver Island two years ago is finally to be returned to its owner — with the memory card and its images intact.

Vancouver artist Paul Burgoyne lost the camera in 2012, when his boat the Bootlegger was shipwrecked on a 500-kilometre voyage from Vancouver to his summer home in Tahsis, B.C. His camera and treasured photos went down with the ship.

"That just shocked me," said Burgoyne. "Getting the camera, or the photos back, that's really quite wonderful."

Two years on, earlier in May, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre university students Tella Osler and Beau Doherty were conducting research dives with BMSC Diving and Safety Officer Siobhan Gray off Aguilar Point, B.C., where they discovered Burgoyne's camera 12 metres down.​

According to Isabelle M. Côté, Professor of Marine Ecology at Simon Fraser University, there were multiple marine species, from two kingdoms and at least seven phyla, living on the camera when it was found.

The Lexar Platinum II, 8 GB memory card still worked and Côté was able to post online a family portrait she found among the photos, in hopes of finding the owner.

As luck would have it, a member of the Bamfield coast guard station, who had rescued Burgoyne when he was shipwrecked, recognized him posing in the centre of the photo, and he is due to be reunited with his photos soon.

"I have a new respect for, you know, these electronics," Burgoyne said. "You throw most of it away every two years, but that little card is an amazing bit of technology."

Burgoyne said memories of the shipwreck came flooding back after being told Wednesday night that his camera had been found.

"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 and thinking, you know, 'What could be better than this?" said Burgoyne.

"I thought I had the boat on auto pilot but clearly I had made a mistake. The next thing all hell was breaking loose."

Burgoyne's nine-metre trawler was wrecked less than an hour after the last photos were taken, and his camera was lost at sea with some irreplaceable images on the card.

The pictures include a family gathering to scatter his parents' ashes at Lake of the Woods in Ontario and a video showing the choppy seas his boat was facing before it wrecked.

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