It’s always exciting to discover a message in a bottle, but rarely ones that are 132 years old.
Found on Wedge Island in Western Australia on Jan. 21, it’s the oldest message in a bottle ever discovered.
The discovery breaks the last record for the oldest message in a bottle, which was 108 years old and found in Germany in 2005.
Dating back to 1886, the gin bottle was tossed from the German ship Paula in the Indian Ocean as part of an oceanographic experiment. Scientific researchers hoped the bottle would help them better understand ocean currents and hence find better shipping routes.
Perth resident Tonya Illman uncovered the bottle half-buried as she was walking with a friend along the soft sand dunes, thinking it might look good in her bookcase.
“My son’s girlfriend was the one who discovered the note when she went to tip the sand out. The note was damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string,” Tonya Illman said in a statement.
“We took it home and dried it out, and when we opened it we saw it was a printed form, in German, with very faint German handwriting on it.”
Illman and her husband Kym brought the bottle to the Western Australian Museum, who have published a report on the discovery. The Illmans even have produced s video about their find.
Researchers think the bottle washed up on the beach within a year of being thrown off the ship, but was buried in the sand until a storm helped to unearth it a century later.
The note, in German, asked for its finder to send the slip back to the German Naval Observatory or the nearest German consulate, with the date of its discovery and where it was found.
Dutch and German researchers were able to find a record of the bottle being thrown overboard by the captain of the Paula, ending one very long experiment. The Illmans have loaned the bottle to the Museum for two years.
“This has been the most remarkable event in my life. To think that this bottle has not been touched for nearly 132 years and is in perfect condition, despite the elements, beggars belief. I’m still shaking,” Illman said in a blog post.
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