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Message in a Bottle Found After 108 Years at Sea

Sea mail

<![CDATA[It might not have held a map to pirates' treasure, but a glass bottle fished out of the sea recently by a retired British postal worker has certainly made waves in the historical community. The clear glass bottle was pulled out of the sea by Marianne Winkler when she spotted it floating off the shore of Amrum, one of the North Frisian Islands located in the German North Sea, while she and her husband Horst were vacationing nearby. The only thing visible was a folded note in the interior, clearly labelled “Break the bottle” in an unknown hand. According to the Times of India, Winkler says that her husband attempted to remove the message from the bottle without actually breaking it. However, after several attempts there seemed to be no other way, so the pair simply followed the note’s instructions and broke the bottle open. After doing so they were able to read the note, which had been penned in Dutch, German and English. The message instructed the finder of the bottle to record when and where they had found the bottle before returning the note to Plymouth, England, at the request of the Marine Biological Association (MBA). In return, the note read, whoever did so would be entitled to a reward of one shilling. The only catch? The letter, and the bottle bearing it, had been sent out to sea more than a century ago – 108 years ago, to be more exact. Luckily, the MBA still exists to this day, and the organization was happy to take the bottle off of the Winklers’ hands. According to Guy Baker, the Communications Director for the MBA, the bottle was instantly recognizable as one of more than 1,000 that the MBA had released into the North Sea over the course of two years beginning in 1904 in order to map current strength in the body of water. The experiment was conducted at a time when scientists were still working on ways to collect data on ocean currents and fish, remarked Baker, adding that a large number of the bottles were recovered by fishermen or were found on nearby shores. Only a handful of the bottles were never recovered, the Communications Director said, with most being found relatively quickly. The Winklers received a shilling from the MBA for finding the bottle, which was a rather fitting gesture from the organization - though the reward certainly wasn’t adjusted for inflation after 108 years at sea. Still, this newest find has become the record holder for longest bottle lost at sea as part of this particular experiment. The previous record holder, a bottle that was recovered off the coast of the Shetland Islands in 2013, had been out at sea for 99 years and 43 days. Another bottle, which has been initially dated to having spent 107 years out in the open ocean, is unable to be verified as the individual who discovered it, Steve Thurber from Canada, has insisted that he does not wish to smash open the bottle in order to do so. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user: Šarūnas Burdulis ]]>

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