Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Message in a Bottle

Just a few months ago, the world's oldest known message just got older.  It is almost 132 years old - thrown into the sea as part of a German oceanographic experiment in 1886.  

The bottle was found in January by a Perth, Australia family walking on a remove beach in West Australia.  The previous record was 108 years old.  The note had faint writing and the name of the ship, Paula.

They took the find to the Western Australia Museum, and the message was researched with colleagues from Germany and the Netherlands.  They found an archival record of Paula's meteorological journal, recording that a drift bottle had been thrown overboard.  They matched the handwriting on the journal and the message in the bottle.  

These were experiments to track the ocean currents.  Thousands of bottles were thrown overboard in the 69-year German experiment.  Six hundred and sixty-two messages were returned.  The last German message in a bottle was found in 1934 in Denmark. There is one listed as longer than these - 151 years found in 1935 in Japan.

There are questions whether this is authentic-  the couple's intentions had been questioned, but so far the evidence confirms authenticity.  Here's the Youtube video.

Messages in bottles have diverse intentions - from scientific experiments tracking ocean currents, to distress calls, to memorial tributes of deceased loved ones, and invitations to imagined and past love interests.  The message in a bottle has been with us since Grecian times.  

Scientific bottles are designed for the purpose - they are formally named  'drift objects' and provide information about currents to help researchers develop ocean circulation maps.  The U.S. Coast Guard launched bottles as recently as 1966, and started using them in 1846. 

A low percentage are recovered.  It is thought to be less than 3 percent overall.  Recovery rates decrease as bottles are released further from shore.  A rule of thumb is that bottles released more than 100 miles from shore have recovery rates below 10 percent. 

Wikipedia has the list of long-duration (>25 years) events involving messages in bottles HERE.

We look at the fleeting flowers of spring - these are Ranunculus in the Sunshine Express Greenhouses. 

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