All the romantics have pictured finding a message in a bottle that will lead them on some grand adventure, or perhaps to their true love. What if you found a message in a bottle and it was just really, really old? Still pretty cool, honestly!
The Guardian reports that a couple in Perth, Australia, named Tony and Kym Illman, were strolling down the beach when they found an old glass bottle settled in the dunes. Having already found true love together, they thought it would just be a cool piece of junk to put on their bookshelf. Then they opened it.
Inside was a noted dated from 12 June 1886 and written in German. Kym speaks some German, so he could understand that it basically said that if you're reading this "please plot the coordinates it was found, and the date it was found, and send it back.”
It turned out that the bottle was one of thousands thrown overboard by German ships that were conducting a 69-year long experiment on ocean currents. A message would be marked with the date, coordinates where it was thrown in the water and the name of the ship. This bottle was thrown off a ship called the Paula, in the Indian ocean.
The couple took the bottle to the Western Australian Museum and confirmed its authenticity. The museum's curator of maritime archeology, Ross Anderson, even looked it up in the journals of the captain of the Paula.
“Incredibly, there was an entry for June 12, 1886, made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard,” Anderson said. They also reached out to the German Naval Observatory, who confirmed the find was real as well.
Of the thousands jettisoned by German researchers only 662 have been found.
But the last time one was found from this group was 1934.
Here's the form message inside:
The Illmans looked up Deutsche Seewarte to start piecing the mystery together.
Now both the bottle and message are on display at the museum, so visitors can learn about the project and its connection to Australia.
And here's the travel path of the boat that threw the bottle overboard:
Before this bottle was found, the previous record for oldest-known message in a bottle recovered was 108 years.
So, to all the romantics out there, you better start beach combing.