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Modern Mysteries

What was the oldest message in a bottle ?

By T.K. Randall
September 21, 2012 · Comment icon 13 comments



Image Credit: CC 3.0 Dread83
A 98-year-old scrap of paper was discovered in a bottle caught in the nets of a Shetland Isles skipper.
Far from being a call for help from a shipwrecked sailor or a letter to a lost love the message was instead part of a century old science experiment. "Please state where and when this card was found, and then put it in the nearest Post Office," it read. "You will be informed in reply where and when it was set adrift. Our object is to find out the direction of the deep currents of the North Sea."

The message is the oldest ever recorded according to the Guinness Book of Records and is believed to have been released in to the sea along with 1,889 others by Capt. C. Hunter Brown on June 10, 1914. The release of the bottles was part of experiments conducted by the Glasgow School of Navigation to learn more about the circulation of water around Scotland.[!gad]Far from being a call for help from a shipwrecked sailor or a letter to a lost love the message was instead part of a century old science experiment. "Please state where and when this card was found, and then put it in the nearest Post Office," it read. "You will be informed in reply where and when it was set adrift. Our object is to find out the direction of the deep currents of the North Sea."

The message is the oldest ever recorded according to the Guinness Book of Records and is believed to have been released in to the sea along with 1,889 others by Capt. C. Hunter Brown on June 10, 1914. The release of the bottles was part of experiments conducted by the Glasgow School of Navigation to learn more about the circulation of water around Scotland.
Oddly enough, the previous record - a message in a bottle dating to 1917 - was set in 2006 by Mark Anderson, a friend of Leaper's who was sailing the same ship, the Copious.


Source: National Geographic | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by King Fluffs 10 years ago
I left a message in a bottle before. The lady that responded to the email has since became a good friend of mine. EDIT - Email? why did I write that. What I was meant to say was, I put my email address on the paper and became friends with the person whom responded.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Ryegrog 10 years ago
I've heard of people putting messages in a plastic bag and tying it to a sting on a helium filled balloon and getting responses.
Comment icon #6 Posted by JGirl 10 years ago
kinda cool. the message was a bit of a let down tho lol
Comment icon #7 Posted by Idano 10 years ago
Don't mean to be a buzz kill, it's a really cool idea but has anyone thought of the ecological impact this has, maybe none, but do we know? Thousands of glass/plastic bottles roaming our seas can't be good....can it?
Comment icon #8 Posted by DKO 10 years ago
Don't mean to be a buzz kill, it's a really cool idea but has anyone thought of the ecological impact this has, maybe none, but do we know? Thousands of glass/plastic bottles roaming our seas can't be good....can it? Compared to the 'North Pacific Garbage Patch', a few bottles is nothing. 7 million tonnes of plastic spanning twice the size of Texas is just floating there. Disgusting really.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Ryegrog 10 years ago
Compared to the 'North Pacific Garbage Patch', a few bottles is nothing. 7 million tonnes of plastic spanning twice the size of Texas is just floating there. Disgusting really. I find it ironic that people will drink bottled water because they think it's good for them and at the same time discard the bottle in the ocean or off in a ditch.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Idano 10 years ago
Compared to the 'North Pacific Garbage Patch', a few bottles is nothing. 7 million tonnes of plastic spanning twice the size of Texas is just floating there. Disgusting really. I know that's really ugly isn't it, but should we add to it? Could we send out some sort of e-mail (just brainstorming) or some sort of electric signal? I guess we already do send signals in space..maybe that should be our new message in a bottle, everyone with little transmitters...hey maybe i'm on to something here....hhmmmmmm????
Comment icon #11 Posted by DKO 10 years ago
I know that's really ugly isn't it, but should we add to it? Could we send out some sort of e-mail (just brainstorming) or some sort of electric signal? I guess we already do send signals in space..maybe that should be our new message in a bottle, everyone with little transmitters...hey maybe i'm on to something here....hhmmmmmm???? Yeah they don't use the bottle trick anymore. They only used them roughly 100 years ago. Nowadays they use degradable transmitters and satellites.
Comment icon #12 Posted by New World Within 10 years ago
Great idea..might get a snail mail penpal this way!
Comment icon #13 Posted by Topperharvey 10 years ago
It was a cover up! a conspiracy! The real message was --eat at Joes 358 stateside.


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