Well there I was, walking along a deserted beach, wondering about my place in the world—wondering what would come of all my messages in bottles and whether I’d get to do anything like a book or a movie with them before we drown ourselves in plastic trash—when a waterproof camera appeared on the beach!
That one’s a Kodak. I found another camera that day–a FujiFilm camera–but apparently didn’t photograph it—here’s what it looked like:
Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d found a camera washed up on the beach, as you may recall from the post about Janet LaClair. But that camera didn’t yield any pictures that could connect me with its sender (though I did use it to take several pictures of my own!).
When I brought the cameras home, I thought about Todd Bieber who found some undeveloped film in the NYC blizzard a few years ago and how he used the developed photos to reconnect the film with its owner. The story inspired me to think that if I could just get some images from these cameras, I could find their owners.
So I’ve had the cameras almost a year now, and I guess I waited this long to develop them partly out of fear, partly out of attachment to the cameras. I mean, if I develop the film and there’s nothing there…what a bummer! But if I keep the cameras undeveloped–they represent potential, you know? They vibrate with exciting potential! Finally, though, I convinced myself to try having the film developed.
The amazing thing about these waterproof cameras is that they often retain images. They float around in the punishing ocean and sun, and still—after months or years—the film turns out visible images. Not great ones, but interesting ones. Now I’m about to show you these images in the order they appear on the film.
Let’s start with the very first picture on the Kodak:
WHOA! Do you see that dude?! It’s not super clear, but if we find him, we might be able to recognize/positively identify him! How would we do that, you ask? Well, check out those number on that Jet Ski! They must be registration numbers of some kind, but I have no idea how to use these numbers to track down that craft. If you do, or if you know someone (a sailor, boater, navy person) who might, please please please send them the link to this post so they can help me solve this mystery!
The next picture is almost identical:
Next, we have some pictures of the Jet Ski adventure–we never see the person behind the camera though. So, here’s someone else taking off on a different craft:
Anyone recognize this coastline?
What about these hills? Or that gadget on this dude’s wrist–is it a watch or something else?
Here’s a closer view of the wrist gadget and a populated coast. Recognize the island?
And here’s the last photo from the Kodak camera–the last one this person took before losing the camera in the water:
I think this coastline belongs to islands in the Caribbean, but I can’t be sure where. I can rule out the islands where I found the camera, though, since they are not this hilly. This almost looks like the Virgin Islands to me. What do you all think? Please share this with any friends you have who visit the Caribbean and may be able to help identify the coastline! If you know anyone in the Navy or Coast Guard, that could help, too!
The next camera–the FujiFilm camera–didn’t contain images of other people. I did, however, pop a selfie right when I picked it up, just to see if it would work:
Not bad for a sea-battered camera, hey?! I took some more images, but apparently I was delusional with dehydration at this point:
I found myself thinking as I looked at these how much I like the crazy appearance of these images. They look like they’ve had some kind of hip new “filter” applied, but that’s just the result of sea and sun! If Instagram gets ahold of these images, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them develop an “ocean-battered disposable camera” effect. Man… these enigmatic photos could soon be everywhere!
I’ve had the good fortune to find a few of these cameras and I cherish the images I’ve found on them as well as the images I’ve taken with them. It’s not often that I get to contribute the very “messages in bottles” I find, you know? Usually, whatever is inside the bottle or message was put there by the sender, and that’s the end of it. But in this case, I got to add a little P.S. line to the message in the form of a selfie. And that, friends and neighbors, is pretty darn cool.
So, the investigation begins. If you know anything about Personal Water Craft (PWC) registration, let me know! Especially if you recognize the location for this particular Jet Ski. Also, if you or anyone you know might recognize the coastline in the above photos, send along your thoughts by either commenting on this post or using the “Contact” button on the left. But my gut tells me that the best hope for finding these folks is wide exposure–so if you want to help, please share this link on Facebook, email it to friends, share it on Twitter, etc. Let’s find these folks!
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David Whitten said:
Here’s an idea……don’t know if it will be a real “lead” but you might try contacting someone here to see if a number can be looked up, and the owner identified…….. It appears to be a Florida watercraft number: FL8543NM
(Am I reading that right?)
Phil Freeland said:
Well, this is quite a mystery, Clint!! This even goes beyond finding a message in a bottle!! You found pictures! This is exciting!
Message in a Bottle Hunter said:
Thanks Phil! I’m contacting water sports and jet ski rental companies in the Florida Keys, but if you (or Melanie?) happen to know anyone in that community, let me know!
Richard Kaplan said:
What a great post!!
Best regards, Richard
Message in a Bottle Hunter said:
Thanks! If you know anyone in the Florida boating community, send ’em my way!