Your Photo Data Is Safe…Underwater?

That’s right, you read the headline is correct. Over the weekend a diver, Markus Thompson, found a camera at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, just off the coast of British Colubmia. He salvaged the camera, poked around a little bit (determining that the camera had been dropped into the water in August 2010), recovered the data off the card and, using Google+, found the owner.

Markus’ original post and updates here. The social web doing some good, a photographer getting back some property along with some thought-to-be-long-lost images… But… I’m guessing that all you really want to know is the brand of the card, right?

Funny, although I don’t blame you. Apparently this was a SanDisk Extreme III but, not that it overly matters…regardless what type of card you use, it’s true that many cards/types/brands can survive total submersion in water… now we just know that at least some of them can hang out in salt water for year(s)

87 Responses to Your Photo Data Is Safe…Underwater?

  1. doug November 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Great story, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve run cards through the washer and dryer and recovered images. Cards even cheap ones are amazingly tough.

  2. Andreas November 28, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Amazing how tough those small SD cards can be! :D

  3. Adam November 28, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Just found it very funny that although you and he mention the power of Google+, as of right now there are only 1 Google+ share and 31 Facebook share and likes…. Social is social, right?

  4. Philipp November 28, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    The owner should better clean the sensor before using the camera again ;)

  5. Dennis November 28, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    The problem is not really the water, it’s the combination of water and air/oxygen – that’s what’s killing it. So when you drowned your cards … don’t try to try them just with warm air. Clean it (e.g. with alcohol or destilled water) and surround it with silica gel (at least that is what I would do) – and if those date were important, then for god’s damn sake take it as fast as you can to a pro! It’s a matter of hours and not days. If that sea water dries on the electronics it might make it all corrode and that means “bye bye date”.

  6. Gregor Anthes November 28, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    Hello, i’m not very overcome instead this recovery…. i compactflash in the washingmachine is not really a problem. This is what i had the chance to realirze, after washing a compactflash with 60 degrees….

  7. Cameron November 28, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I dropped my Pentax Optio 43WR in the Kongakut River on day 3 of a 15 day pack rafting trip. The river is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska and dumps into the Arctic Ocean. I used it mostly for my adventure video podcast. If anyone is up there and sees it, let me know. More on that trip: Thanks. ;)

  8. Steve November 28, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    To drive water out of electrical items. Put it in a sealed container of salt. Worked after my iPhone went in the bath.

    • Moses November 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

      you can also put it in rice!

  9. tardy November 28, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    hilarious. and crazy

  10. Henning Ras November 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Rather put any electric stuff like iPhone or Black Berry or camera in bag with RICE and silicon gel. It will remove the dampness and will not harm the circuits while in action.
    Salt causing corrosion while taking the dampness away and then you can just as well through the camera or iPhone, Black Berry etc away…

  11. JKA November 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    There’s this camera that I read about earlier this year. Don’t know if its the same article but definitely the same camera.
    It was lost for 4 years at sea. All the plastic had eroded away and all that was left was the metal body and sd card which still worked! The man that found it posted the pictures on to try and find it’s owner.

  12. rudy November 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    some great sentence structure in the comments – wow!

    • Emily November 30, 2011 at 2:23 am #

      This isn’t Facebook, and we aren’t 14 yrs. old. Haha.

  13. fstopme November 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    I’ve actually washed (and in some cases dried) CF cards, SDs, and the odd flash drive and have always been able to read my data. These cards and flash units are more robust than they look.

  14. Daniel Kappelle November 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Haha, strange but true :D Really cool how it survived that!

  15. Dotcompals November 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Actually the real owner is yet to be found.

  16. Patrick November 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Now I know what to say next time someone asks why I choose Canon or why I picked Sandisk cards. :)

  17. John November 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Amazing. SanDisk is the way to go into my camera.

  18. tolits November 28, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    can the owner post some photos…

  19. NorthernPixels November 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I’ve put my USB stick through the wash on three separate occasions and it’s still working wonderfully. Thank heavens for flash memory

  20. Ana GR November 29, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I washed a card in the washing machine, 30º, 1 1/2 hours, and then on to the drier for 1 1/2 hours. The pictures were there, the card was clean. It was not intentional, of course.

  21. stanchung November 29, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    Sandisk ‘delighting you as well’? haha
    Good to know, I can wash them if they get grubby. :-)

    I have 2 SD’s that are damaged physically with the lock lever dropping out.
    Glued some plastic there in place.

  22. brec November 29, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Chase, I’m so glad you picked the right sponsor and client.

  23. Bill November 29, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Interesting find! I had a similar experience in 2005: we upset our canoe in freezing water on a small river far in the back country of a Canadian national park. The camera (along with other stuff) was lost and under fresh water for two years. Camera destroyed but SanDisk card still had the photos. It was kind of eerie to see the photos taken just before we tipped. Here’s one website that reported the find:

  24. mat g. November 29, 2011 at 7:14 pm #


    A great story indeed! I can vouch for this as I sent a card through the washing machine with wedding images on it! When I found the card, I simply let it dry overnight and Voila! the images were there in the morning!

  25. bryan karl lathrop November 30, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    I can vouch for this story…a good buddy of mine had his (almost) brand new Canon 7D take a swim last July, only he dove in to retrieve it immediately. Card worked like a charm afterwards, too bad his camera was immediately toasted.

  26. mark December 1, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Last week in Maui I flooded a water housing with a 60d, the card I was using was a Lexar platinum II 32gb. I was able to retrieve the data on my clients mac book pro a few hours after flooding. When I got home to Oahu a few days later the card was unreadable, and green stuff was coming out of it. Maybe only the SanDisk are water proof.

  27. Harry Hilders December 1, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Haha, great photo’s!

  28. Mark - Devon Wedding Photographer December 2, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    Man, if that was one of my cameras it would be up on the wall/a stand as a piece of art, it looks totally cool….. although, if it was my camera, I would be horrified to have done that to it LOL.

  29. Mandy December 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Great story, can’t believe he managed to find the owner on Google+ just shows the power of social media!

    Poor camera…

  30. David G. December 5, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    Wow. Great story, thanks for sharing!

  31. Chris December 5, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    So wild! Hope the photos on the card are worth keeping.

  32. Tampa Bay Photography December 6, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I wonder if the owner had the extended warranty on the Canon. ;)

  33. foundAtypo December 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    British “Columbia” :)

  34. adrian March 21, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    weeeewww… how did you find it… it’s an epic

  35. Alva Marandi November 29, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    Thanks a lot for sharing this post. Definitely people will find this as very helpful.

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    you have a abundant blog here! would you comparable to compose a number of invite posts on my blog?

  37. Shelagh January 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    I sell cameras and big time recommend Sandisk Cards as they say right on the packaging that they are more durable. I noticed that is was a Rebal XS so while it could be a Sandisk Extreme, it wouldn’t be an extreme III as that would mean it was a compact flash card and the XS uses SD. But that aside, that is remarkable that images were saved.

  38. Shane Jackson - Langdon court hotel January 24, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    That is crazy! I can believe it lasted in salt water for that long. The one thing I will say is that FILM wouldn’t of lasted that long! lol

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