Read More: Western Australian Museum
The world’s oldest known message in a bottle has been found half-buried at a West Australian beach nearly 132 years after it was tossed overboard in the Indian Ocean, 950km from the coast. Until now, the previous world record for the oldest message in a bottle was 108 years, four months and 18 days between jettison and discovery. The message is dated 12 June 1886 and was jettisoned from the German sailing barque Paula as part of a long-term German oceanographic experiment to better understand global ocean currents and find faster, more efficient shipping routes. The bottle was found just north of Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, by Tonya Illman near her son’s car which had become bogged in the soft sand. Researchers believe the bottle and message probably washed up there within a year of being jettisoned but lay buried in a layer of damp sand which helped preserve it, until a storm surge or similar weather event uncovered it more than a century later. “My friend Grace Ricciardo and I were walking across the dunes when I saw something sticking out of the sand so I went to take a closer look,” Mrs Illman said. “It just looked like a lovely old bottle so I picked it up thinking it might look good in my 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. 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”.