Strolling on a beach in January near Wedge Island in Western Australia, Kym and Tonya Illman spotted a dark glass bottle buried in the dunes. At first, they thought it was just trash, but after closer inspection, Tonya decided the bottle’s distinctive raised lettering might be a nice decorative touch in their house, and retrieved it. Little did they know at the time, they’d just found the oldest message in a bottle on record.
When they got home, Tonya tipped the sand out of the bottle, and out popped a tightly rolled piece of paper, dated June 12th, 1886! The message included coordinates for the German sailing ship ‘Paula’, and requested that the finder send the note to the German Naval Observatory along with the coordinates of where it was found. It wasn’t exactly the kind of note the movies portray… from some ship-wrecked castaway, or long lost love. It turns out, it was part of a long term German experiment to track ocean currents that ran between 1864 and 1933.
The message was authenticated by Australian officials and the German Naval Observatory. Researchers were even able to find an entry from the captain’s log matching the June 12th date.
Image source: Photos courtesy of KymIllman.com