When Adele Devonshine lost her camera during a dive off the coast of St Abbs, she resigned herself to the fact it was lost to the depths of the sea, never to be seen again.
But in a mystery that provides a distinctly modern twist on the old message in a bottle, the ecologist has been reunited with her device – thanks to the power of social media.
The 37-year-old was exploring the waters off the Berwickshire coast in the summer of 2013 when she saw the clip attaching her Fuji camera to her diving suit had snapped.
A search of the shoreline came up empty handed and Ms Devonshire set off for home, putting the loss down to back luck.
But three years on, her eagle-eyed friend was scouring Facebook when she spotted familiar photographs of Ms Devonshire and her family.
Only one thing seemed out of place; they had been posted not by the Devonshires or their friends, but by Lars Mossberg, a management consultant from a remote Swedish fishing village.
By sheer coincidence, Ms Devonshire’s friend had joined the Facebook group, Lost at Sea, earlier that day. She put Ms Devonshire in touch with Mr Mossberg and, after confirming a few details of what was contained on the memory card, she is about to be reunited with the camera.
“It’s mad really, I’m still shocked,” said Ms Devonshire. “To think that it had presumably been bobbing around in the sea for all that time and still works is remarkable.”
The camera’s remarkable journey is a mystery known only to the North Sea, but at some point it was swept through the Skagerrak strait off Sweden’s west coast, before landing on a rocky outcrop on the island of Gullholmen, home to Mr Mossberg and just 89 other people.
The electronic device survived the trip thanks to a waterproof case that also gave it buoyancy. When Mr Mossberg found it nestled amongst sea grass on his morning stroll a few weeks ago, he felt compelled to look closer.
“I don’t know why I looked down at it but I saw something orange,” he recalled. “I left it for a while when I took it home because I didn’t believe it would work.”
After leaving the device to dry out, he prised open the scratched waterproof cover to find a perfectly unharmed camera inside which turned on without a problem, despite the fact it had not been charged in years.
“There were 400 to 500 photos, from all different places,” Mr Mossberg added. “I could see the last photo was from around July 2013, and a diving trip, so was amazed it had reached me.”
After listening to the voice on videos on the camera he thought it must belong to a Briton, so posted a few images of Ms Devonshire’s husband, Paul, and father, Roger, to Lost At Sea. The appeal went viral, being shared by around 2,000 people in the space of a few hours.
Being able to trace down its rightful owner the same day was, he explained, a bizarre experience.
“The more I think about it and the journey it has been on, the more exciting it is,” he said. “It’s really very, very good.”
For Ms Devonshire, the unexpected discovery is good news, especially considering she never replaced the old camera.
“I’m really looking forward to getting it back,” she added.
“It has been on quite the journey.”