The world’s oldest message in a bottle ever discovered was stumbled upon on an Australian beach by a group of walkers.
The group who found the bottle and the message in it are the first people to read the note since June 12, 1886. The group, which included the parents of Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo, shook the bottle and a damp, rolled-up parchment that looked like a cigarette fell out.
The large rectangular bottle was found half-buried in sand dunes on a beach near Australia’s Wedge Island. And after weeks of research and investigation, it has been confirmed as an authentic find that was thrown from a German ship into the Indian Ocean.
Kym Illman said his wife Tonya spotted the object while walking with Grace Ricciardo, and initially dismissed it as rubbish.
He said: “She thought, ‘that looks nice, that’ll look good on my bookshelf’.”
After warming the 132-year-old note in an oven, they established that the message written in German contained instructions asking the finder to send details of where and when it was found. Mr Illman used Google Translate to decipher the rest of the text. It is believed to have been thrown from the German sailing ship Paula as part of an experiment to research ocean currents and find faster shipping routes, the Western Australian Museum said.
Ross Anderson, the museum’s assistant curator for maritime archaeology, said: “Extraordinary finds need extraordinary evidence to support them, so we contacted colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany for help to find more information.
Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula’s original Meteorological Journal and there was an entry for 12 June 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard. The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message.”
The message in a bottle was verified as authentic by Germany’s Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency and National Meteorological Service, and will go on display at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle.