The camera, with its memory card intact, drifted the Pacific for over five years. (Photo/Chuang Che-chuan)
The owner of the camera, Lindsay Scallan, who lives in Georgia. (Photo courtesy of China Airlines)
The owner of a camera that drifted 8,000 km from Hawaii for over five-and-a-half years before washing ashore on the eastern coast of Taiwan was found as a woman living in the American state of Georgia, Taiwan-based China Airlines said Monday.
Douglas Cheng, an operating manager at the airline, said he found the camera in a waterproof case while visiting Taitung county with his family and a colleague during the Lunar New Year holiday in February.
The Canon PowerShot contained photos mostly of a blonde woman who Cheng thought was likely to be the owner and who probably lost her camera during a diving vacation in August 2007. Cheng added that he then took the camera to local police office.
In an effort to return the beautiful memories to the camera's owner, Cheng started his search for the camera's owner by passing the information to the Hawaiian government, local tourism bureau and media through China Airlines' Honolulu branch.
Thanks to the help of the internet, the information spread rapidly through Taiwanese and foreign media, while the airline also created a Facebook page to help with the search. The search for the owner was concluded in two days.
After watching a TV news report, a friend of the camera's owner told the television station in Hawaii via email that the owner is one of his high school classmates in the state of Georgia and provided the station with the owner's Facebook account. Media outlets in Hawaii immediately contacted Lindsay Crumbley Scallan in Georgia via video conference and confirmed her as the camera's owner.
Scallan said she lost the camera on her wrist while going scuba diving Kaanapali Beach in Maui Island, Hawaii in 2007. She said it was incredible that even though the camera had drifted at sea for so long, the restored memory card containing photos is still readable.
"I just was floored that it was my camera and it was all my old pictures and it was amazing. I just couldn't believe it had floated so far, so long ago and the memory card was still intact," Scallan told Hawaii News Now.
"Brought back some good memories, and some pictures I'd forgotten I'd taken. It was great. I'm curious to see what else was on there," said Scallan.
China Airlines contacted Scallan on Monday and invited her to visit Taiwan to get her camera back and take the precious memories it recorded back home. The airline also said it hoped she will share with other Americans the passion and friendliness of Taiwanese people.
Meanwhile, the Taitung county government said that if Scallan is willing to visit the east Taiwanese county to get her camera back, it would grant her special treatment.
However, Scallan said that she started her new job just a week ago and was not sure whether she could take leave to visit Taitung.
Cheng recalled that while he was walking on a beach, a big wave washed ashore the camera with a waterproof case covered with seaweed and barnacles. Thanks to a desiccant in the plastic case, the camera itself and the battery were undamaged, Cheng said.