First Bottle Experiment: In 310 B.C. E., Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher launched bottles with messages in them. He wanted order to prove that the Mediterranean Sea was part of the Atlantic Ocean.
Return of the Science Project: In 2008, an Alaskan beachcomber, Merle Brandell, found a message in a plastic bottle along a shore near the Bering Sea. The message was 21 years old! It had traveled 1,735 miles. In 1987, Emily Hwaung sent the bottle from Seattle as part of a 4th grade science project. Brandell wanted to get in touch with Emily to tell her he had found her bottle. He tried to call the school, but it had closed down. Next, he wrote a letter to the school district. It reached the district spokesman who helped Brandell track down the student. Emily Hwaung Shih is an accountant who lives in Seattle. She was amazed that the message had survived all of those years. So don’t worry if you don’t hear any updates right away. You never know when your bottle may be discovered!
Journey from Nantucket: It doesn’t matter how old you are, your bottle could travel a great distance. James (age 6), Jacob (age 5), and Alexa Alosi (age 3) each released bottles from a ferryboat leaving Nantucket in November 2006. In December, Jacob received a postcard from a medical student in Boston. She had found his bottle in Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod a few days after Jacob had sent it. In October 2007, James also received a postcard. It was from Amsterdam, Netherlands! A couple and their two-year-old son had found the bottle on the beach.
Wedding Vows in a Bottle: Newlyweds Melody Kloska and Matt Behrs threw a plastic bottle containing their wedding vows into Lake Michigan after their wedding. The y got married near Wind Point Lighthouse in southern Wisconsin on August 18, 2007. Their bottle was found by Fred and Lynnette Dubendorf in Mears, Michigan. Lynnette found the bottle while she was walking her dogs on the beach. Here’s an amazing fact. The Dubendorfs were also married on a beach on the same date—28 years before!
Castaways: Can you imagine being shipwrecked? In 2005, 88 people were stranded near the coast of Costa Rica. They put a message in a bottle. Then the castaways tied it to the line of a fishing boat that happened to be passing by. The fishermen brought the message to a marine protection group on a small island. The group contacted their headquarters, and the people were rescued. That plan doesn’t always work, but fortunately, this time, it did.
Romantic Letters: Ake Viking, a Swedish sailor, released a message in a bottle over the edge of his ship. He wrote that if a pretty girl found it, she should write back. A fisherman from Sicily, Italy found the bottle. He thought it was funny and gave it to his daughter named Paolina. She wrote back to the sailor. They became friends and started to write love letters back and forth. The sailor visited her in Sicily. They got married there in 1958.
Letter for the Queen: Even Christopher Columbus sent a message in a bottle! During his journey back to Spain from the New World, there was an intense storm. Columbus wanted to make sure that the Queen of Spain knew of his discovery, so in case he didn’t make it back home, he wrote a note for the Queen about the New World. He placed it into a sealed cask. If his ship was destroyed, Columbus believed the cast might still float to shore and be found.
Warning Note: In 1875, after the captain and other officers on the Canadian ship Lennie had been murdered by a mutinous crew, Constant Van Hoydonck, a Belgian steward cleverly outsmarted them. Instead of sailing for Greece as the crew ordered, Van Hoydonck set sail for England. When the mutineers suspected he was going in the wrong direction, Van Hoydonck convinced them they should moor off the coast of France to wait for better winds. The steward and a cabin boy then frantically bottled up rescue notes and dropped them over the side of the ship. Fortunately, the French discovered a bottle and the criminals were arrested.
On the Go: In May 1990, a shipload of 60,000 Nike shoes spilled out into the Pacific Ocean during a storm. The shoes floated with the currents. They turned up along the shores of the Queen Charlotte Islands, western Vancouver Island, and Washington and Oregon states in the winter of 1991. Later, in the summer of 1992, more shoes showed up at the northern end of the Island of Hawaii. This accident provided another chance for scientists Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Jim Ingraham to study currents.
Franklin’s Chart: In the mid-1700s, Benjamin Franklin did a bottle experiment of his own. Franklin dropped bottles into the Gulf Stream. The bottles asked the finder to let him know where the bottle was located. By compiling this data, Franklin was able to chart ocean currents, including the Gulf Stream.