In March 2013 a Finnish couple lost their underwater Olympus TOUGH camera while snorkelling in the Maldives – and with that thought they had lost all photographic memories of their dream honeymoon.
Then fate and fortune conspired when three months later a German diver called Mario found the camera languishing on the sea floor.
Amazingly, despite few specks of rust on the outside, the memory card inside the camera worked perfectly and revealed around 500 holiday photos of a couple very much in love.
Mario was determined to track them down and reunite them with the camera.
So, using his Facebook account he published a search message: “Olympus camera found in the Maldives! Does anyone know these people?”
Alongside this, he posted a photo of the couple. He added that couple could possibly be from Finland and the approximate date from– due to examining other photos on the camera.
Within a few hours, the message was shared 20,000 times and then came to be on the Finnish diving school ‘Hanko Diving’, where the owners were finally recognised.
Of course, the owners Sari and Ari Luostarinen were absolutely delighted to get their camera back.
Here is their story below
Sari, 31, and her husband Ari, 29, met through an introduction by friends over five years ago and soon fell in love.
They married in July 2012, a happy but bittersweet occasion since Sari’s father had passed had away suddenly nine days before the wedding.
The following weekend was the funeral, and so the couple decided to delay their honeymoon until the following March.
By coincidence, or as the couple like to call it, “destiny”, their names are intertwined with the atoll.
Their first names are almost identical, and the word ARI appears within them, “sARI and ARI” as well as being repeated again in their surname – “LuostARInen.”
And so it seemed the obvious choice to choose ARI ATOLL for their honeymoon!
Sari said: “Ever since I first saw some pictures from Maldives (many, many years ago) I decided that if I were ever get married, this would be the place – and Ari Atoll for that reason that my husband is called ARI and I’m, SARI.”
When the couple landed at Male’ airport, Sari was so tired from the 11-hour journey that the emotion of the last few months caught up with her. She was also slightly delirious from a fever she caught on the flight and burst into tears.
“This was a first time for both of us in Maldives – a dream became true. This trip was supposed to be “once in the life time- experience and I was blown away by all of the natural beauty of the atolls. I was so emotional I cried.”
Soon they were whisked away in a seaplane to Ari Atoll, excited to discover the Chaaya reef Ellaidhoo resort, which would be their home for two weeks.
On the 10th day while snorkelling on the reef, the couple became tired and panicked as the waves came in, dropping their camera.
“Ari called to see if I had a camera and I said no, and neither did he,” said Sari.
“We had around 500 pictures in that camera and in a second we lost all of our memories of the honeymoon.
“Mostly they were underwater pictures but we also had snaps of the lobster dinner we enjoyed in the candle light and of a very big fish that I caught.
“I felt I could cry and scream. I tried to look for the camera and I was very disappointed. I saw in Ari’s face that he was angry and sad as well.”
The couple informed the hotel manager who put out the word to employees and the diving centre. He said: “Don’t worry, you’ll get your camera back -I know you will.”
Then just as they had resigned themselves to the fact that their photos had been lost, fate and fortune conspired to reunite them with their precious memories.
“A German diver was staying at the same resort and saw something on the sea floor, so he dove deeper to take a better look.
“It was our camera. There it was, lying somewhere between 17 to 25 metres (although the waterproof camera is only supposed to withstand 10 metres).
“He took it home and found all our pictures safe on memory card.
“Concluding that we may be from Finland since one picture shows that we are flying with Finnair, he shared a picture of us and these details to Facebook.
“A few hours later my phone rang and the email filled up saying: “Have you lost your camera, look up the afternoon papers, your faces are in there”
“We are so relived and feel incredibly happy and lucky. It really is unbelievable.
“It caused a huge media circus here in Finland, the reporters wanted to do a story of us and our picture were shared around Facebook something like 60,000 times!
“People really wanted us to be found. I still can’t believe this is true!
The camera we lost was Olympus and actually the company wanted to donate a new one to us. Both they and the man who found the camera have been very generous!
“We really loved Maldives and it was very emotional. The environment was so beautiful with turquoise sea full of colourful sea creatures and the sun.
The atmosphere is laid-back and there is no need to hurry. Just relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset, sunrise and good food!
“I am so glad we went to the Maldives. I forced my husband to travel there – he has huge fear of flying but he said it was worth it and he could fly again.
“We would definitely go back to the same resort if only to see our friend the hotel manager.
We spent many evenings dining with him and we are really missing that guy. He is so nice and became our true friend. He has a big heart and if he ever reads this we would like to say to him that we are trying our best to come back as soon as possible -“Hyvää yötä” –”Good Night”
Now they have been reunited with the memories of their honeymoon trip and they have a truly wonderful story to tell their grandchildren.
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