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Owner of Seafaring Mystery Camera Surfaces At Last

WE FOUND THE OWNER OF MY DAD’S MYSTERY CAMERA!!! He found a waterproof digital camera washed ashore in the Caribbean in 2013, but we didn’t get around to “solving” it until 2022, thanks to the help of readers. I’m amazed that this mystery was solved so quickly, and delighted to introduce you to the people behind (and in front of) the camera!

Meet sisters Sally Bryan Cullen (left), Meg Files (middle), and Sue Reimer, the owner of the camera (right).Sally, Meg, and Sue On Ship

All three were on the adventure in the British Virgin Islands when the camera was lost.

Meg, Sue, and Sally on their adventure in the British Islands. Photo courtesy of Meg Files.

The clearest picture on the camera, however, was of Sally, and that was where we focused our search.

Sally Bryan Cullen Underwater Camera Lost At Sea

This photo of Sally Bryan Cullen was key to solving the mystery and finding her twin sister, Sue – the owner of the camera.

Sally Bryan Cullen and Meg Files Photo From Camera Lost At Sea

Another crucial photo of Sally and Meg, taken by Sue.

I wish I could take credit for personally tracking them down, but really, all I did was ask for help. It was you all who solved the mystery! Without your interest and willingness to help, this connection would never have happened…

Social Media Key To Solving Camera Mystery

When I started my blog back in 2011, baby boomers were among the fastest growing segments of social media users, and I began finding more older senders of bottle messages through social media (like Kelvin Euridge).

Sally Bryan Cullen and Sue Bryan Reimer When Young

Sally’s on the left here, and Sue’s on the right.

Today, more folks are on social media than ever, and you can apparently also do a “reverse image search” to find someone online based simply on a photo! And that, friends and neighbors, is exactly what happened here.

Laura Nowak caught wind of my search for Sue through someone who shared the story. A passionate mystery-solver, Laura ran reverse image searches and came up with Sally’s profile:

Mystery Camera Quest

From there, it was off to the races! I couldn’t message Sally directly, so I left comments on her old photos, hoping she would see them.

When I didn’t hear back, I tried other routes…

I contacted Festiva Sailing Vacations, owners of the boat the women chartered for their vacation, and the Festiva rep told me she was reaching out to past customers from the time frame of those photos in hopes of finding the owners.

The folks at Pirates Bight shared my Instagram post, too (yes, I’m on Instagram. Let’s follow each other!)

All of this unfolded at light-speed over the course of about a day and a half. Suddenly, I began hearing from people who claimed to know Sally personally!

Others just expressed interest and gave encouragement, which is more valuable than gold in these situations when I’m simply trying to do something nice, but the odds seem ridiculous!

I was getting comments, messages, all kinds of information pointing in various directions and things were rising to a crescendo and then all of a sudden, the clouds parted and I felt at last the calm happiness I’d hoped for – the simple joy of contact:

Boom! Twin Sisters! TWIST!

Around the same time, I heard back from Festiva Sailing, letting me know they had contacted Sally. Between Festiva Sailing, Laura Nowak, and Jim Cassio, it felt like this mystery got solved almost simultaneously by multiple people! Though I think special thanks are due to Laura, who first spotted Sally “in the wild” as it were.

Sally and Sue. Photo courtesy: Sally Cullen.

Sally, Sue, and Meg with their chartered sailboat. Photo courtesy: Sally Cullen.

Owner of Mystery Camera Shares Her Story

Sue, the true owner of the camera, emailed me when she learned of my quest to find her. She wrote:

Just when I think that life can’t get any more bizarre this happens! I certainly remember that moment almost 12 years ago when my new dive camera floated off my wrist in the Caribbean. I was vacationing with my husband and my sisters and their husbands on a Festiva cruise, and eager to use my new Canon camera in its dive casing. It was our second dive of the trip and I was quite upset when my camera was lost in the depths of the sea. I never in my wildest imagination would think that it would surface and be found by you and your father, true treasure hunters who would make the effort to track me down. It was great fun reading the story of my long-lost camera on your blog and Facebook posting, and I found it fascinating how a Facebook sleuth was able to find my twin sister from her photos in those long-ago pictures.

When I forwarded Sue’s email to my dad, his auto-corrected response was: “What a neat response by Sue…Wholly Cow!!”

Wholly cow, indeed!

THAT’S THE CAMERA! In the circle, on Sue’s wrist! Photo courtesy: Sally Cullen.

Sue Bryan Reimer and Her Husband on Adventure

Sue and her husband on another adventure.

A Mystery Solved; Friendships Born; New Mysteries Await

So here we are – a host of memories thought to be lost forever have been returned to their rightful owners, and new friendships have been born.

This, right here, shows that we can get along with each other, if only we give ourselves the chance. Maybe everyone should lose a camera now and then…

Follow my Facebook page and my Instagram profile to help solve future bottled mysteries, and see real messages in bottles as soon as I post them! For more info on messages in bottles, including links to message in a bottle history, facts, myths, and pop culture references, check out the main page for Message in a Bottle Hunter Clint Buffington! New stories appear on my message in a bottle blog, and if you subscribe to follow the blog via email, it will be like getting messages in bottles delivered right to your inbox 🙂

Thank you thank you thank you all for helping! And thanks in advance for your help  with the next mystery!

The whole crew! Photo courtesy: Sally Cullen.

Photo courtesy: Sally Cullen.