More than 100 years after being set afloat off the shores of Great Britain, a message in a bottle was recovered by a woman vacationing near a beach in Germany. The bottle, which contained a note from British scientist George Parker Bidder, is likely the oldest message in a bottle in history, The Telegraph reported.
The bottle's journey began in 1906 at the North Sea shore, when Bidder released more than 1,000 bottles designed to float above the sea floor in attempts to study ocean currents. All of the bottles contained a postcard that listed instructions in English, German and Dutch to return the note to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England, in exchange for a shilling. When most of the bottles -- not all -- were found a few months later, Bidder was able to confirm his theory that the deep sea current flowed west in the North Sea, a body of water that borders Great Britain, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
Marianne Winkler, a retired post office worker, was strolling down a beach in April on the German North Sea island of Amrum when she came across the 108-year-old bottle.
“It’s always a joy when someone finds a message in a bottle on the beach,” she told the Amrum News, a local website.
Inside, a visible note remained; it read "Break the bottle." She followed the instructions and found the intact postcard, instructing her to fill out information about how she found the bottle and mail it back to the association.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) August 20, 2015
The association said that it had not received a bottle in many years. Keeping its promise, the association gave Winkler a shilling purchased from eBay.
“It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope, as you can imagine,” Guy Baker, communications director at the Marine Biological Association, told the Telegraph.
Guinness World Records has yet to confirm that Winkler's finding is, indeed, the oldest message in a bottle ever found. Currently, the record is held by one found in 2013 after 99 years in a fishing trawler's net.