CALGARY - A Saskatchewan fisherman found the camera he dropped in a lake several months ago thanks to a water bird and one woman's curiosity.
Karen Gwillim could see cars dodging something on a bridge up ahead as she drove through the village of Craven, Sask., on a September day.
As she approached what she thought might be roadkill, Gwillim, 36, was surprised to see a cormorant — a type of water bird — standing on the bridge, exhausted from hauling around some peculiar luggage.
"It had something silver on its back," said Gwillim, a Saskatoon-based sound technician and singing teacher who also works in software development. "I pulled over and walked back toward it. I could see it was a camera."
Sure enough, the bird was carrying a camera, the strap looped around its neck.
Gwillim expected the bird to flee as she approached, but it didn't. "It let me grab it," she said.
She unhooked the camera and carried the cormorant off the bridge to safety, adding it seemed to be in good health.
"The camera was very watered down and the batteries were gone, but when I opened it, the card was still in it," she said.
Gwillim took the card home and was surprised to find 239 photos were recoverable — mostly of fishermen holding up their catches, but also some family photos and pictures from a wedding, she said.
Unsure exactly what to do, she showed the photos around to see if anyone would recognize the people in them and posted some on her Facebook page in an album titled "Do you know these guys?"
Weeks went by and the photos went unclaimed.
Then she heard a story on the radio about a lost camera being returned to its owner and was prompted to reach out to the media to share her tale.
Gwillim said after her story was broadcast, a man who recognized himself in some of the photos stepped forward to say the owner had dropped the camera into some water several months earlier while fishing near Craven.
"I thought it was pretty neat," she said. "There were a lot of remote chances at work here — the most remarkable thing is that the technology didn't totally succumb to the water and that the bird let me catch it.
"I think it's interesting that a fisherman's camera was retrieved by a fisher bird."
Gwillim was Thursday awaiting direct contact with the camera's owner in hopes of returning the photo card to him.