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This Camera Recorded Its Own Disappearance

Swept 350 miles across the sea, it would like to be reunited with its owner.

On Thursday, November 2, a small digital camera washed up on the shores of Süderoog, a tiny island off the coast of Germany. As the Yorkshire Post reports, it was picked up by the island’s only full-time inhabitants, a couple of farmers named Holger Spreer and Nele Wree.

This could have been the end of it. After all, strange things are constantly washing ashore (or being found in the sea), their origins obscure, their journeys opaque. As the Guardian reports, Spreer and Wree have a whole museum of things like this, including balloons, fishing gear, and a high-heeled shoe.

But this particular object was waterproof, and its memory card was still intact. And so, with a little prodding, the lost camera was able to tell its finders how it got there, and where it came from.

In other words—as Spreer and Wree put it in a Facebook post about their discovery, which the Guardian translated from German—“at last, a piece of flotsam is chatting to us.”

It had a bittersweet tale to tell. According to this same Facebook post, the camera likely belonged to a young boy, who used it to videotape his family and his own exploits. Spreer and Wree describe idyllic domestic scenes: the boy and his sister jumping on a trampoline, two parents resting on a couch, as well as an exciting action sequence involving indoor scooter-racing.

The two uploaded the last, most telltale video, which is embedded above. In it, the boy, standing on some algae-covered ocean rocks, empties a bucket of water onto the lens, and then sticks the camera into a tidepool. He films himself exploring the beach.

About 90 seconds later, he places the camera on a rock, pointed out at the shoreline, and begins to explore. He gets smaller and smaller, and eventually leaves the frame. A few minutes later, a wave comes in, and then: splash! The camera is underwater, spinning through a vortex of seaweed, on its way to Süderoog, about 350 miles away.

The camera's last view of its lost friend.
The camera’s last view of its lost friend. https://www.facebook.com/halligsuederoog/videos/812963022220799/

It may yet make its way back again. According to the Guardian, the footage recently came to the attention of a German Maritime Search and Rescue Association officer. He identified the coast in the video as Flamborough Cliffs, in east Yorkshire, and has been working to reunite the camera with its owner.

In the meantime, the talkative castaway has been added to Spreer and Wree’s museum. There—like all loyal objects must—it quietly awaits the boy that forgot it.