A German couple spending the day at a beach on the North Sea has found a message in a bottle that’s at least 108 years old. Possibly the oldest ever found, it was not originally released by a lovelorn, boating Kevin Costner, but rather an Edwardian British scientist studying undersea currents.
The Telegraph reports that, when the holidaying Winklers followed the instructions and broke the bottle, they discovered a postcard requesting—in three different languages—that anybody who found it provide a little information about where the bottle landed and send it back to the UK’s Marine Biological Association. (In exchange for a shilling.) They’d just become part of a century-old experiment:
It turned out the bottle was one of 1,020 released into the North Sea between 1904 and 1906 by George Parker Bidder, a former president of the association.
Bidder released the bottles as part of a project to find out about deep sea currents.
The bottles were specially designed to float just above the sea bed, so they would be carried by the currents deep below the surface.
Of course, they were a little late. Guy Baker, the MBA’s modern-day spokesman, told the Telegraph that most of the bottles turned up within months of their original release, many of them found by fisherman. Bidder used the results to prove the North Sea’s deep current runs east to west. The more you know!
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