Postal worker finds 108-year-old message in a bottle (Marine Biological Association/Thinkstock)
Postal worker finds 108-year-old message in a bottle
Lexile

On Nov. 30, 1906, George Parker Bidder dropped a bottle from a boat into the North Sea. The weighted glass bottle sank almost to the sea floor. Then it bobbed along for 108 years, 4 months and 18 days.
 
Its journey finally ended in 2015. That is when Marianne Winkler, a retired postal worker found it. She was on holiday on Amrum Island. It is one of Germany's North Frisian Islands. She found the bottle washed up on shore.
 
Though Winkler didn't know it, the message in a bottle was the oldest ever recovered. It earned Winkler a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

When Winkler first found the bottle, she could see a message inside. It told her to break it open. But she hesitated to break the bottle. Winkler and her husband could tell that the bottle was old. They didn't want to damage it, Maev Kennedy reports for the Guardian newspaper. 

When they finally got the note out, they found it was actually a postcard. It was addressed to G.P. Bidder at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, England. It promised a one-shilling reward.
 
The Winklers filled out the card and mailed it in an envelope. Luckily, the Marine Biological Association still exists. According to a press release, the association was surprised and thrilled to get a postcard addressed to its former president. He died in 1954. He was 91. According to Corey Fedde at the Christian Science Monitor, the staff searched around on eBay to find a shilling to send to Winkler. The shilling is a unit of currency that went out of circulation in Great Britain in the early 1970s.
 
Winkler's bottle was not the only one Bidder sent to sea. Between 1904 and 1906, he released thousands of bottles. He placed postcards inside them. The bottles were part of a research project. The purpose was to map currents in the North Sea. 

He used special bottles he called "bottom-trailers." They were weighted so they would sink. But each had a piece of stiff wire attached to keep them off the seafloor. The idea was that fishermen trawling the sea would find the bottles and send them in. This was something the MBA says might be one of the first citizen science projects ever recorded.
 
"This was the best technology available at the time," said Guy Baker. He is the communications officer for the Marine Biological Association. "The bottles were [Bidder's] own invention. It was the first time instruments had been made that could record the currents. But it depended on fisherman to report the finding."
 
The Marine Biological Association reports that about 55 percent of the bottles were returned. The MBA added that the experiment was a success as it showed the East-to-West flow of the North Sea's currents. Bidder's bottle breaks the previous record for finding a message in a bottle. The previous record went to a bottle that spent 97 years and 309 days at sea. It was found by a Scottish skipper near the Shetland Islands. That was in 2012.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why have people used bottles for their messages?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (22)
  • markm-3-bar
    5/06/2016 - 10:04 a.m.

    People use bottles for their messages because they cost almost no money and they usually dos get to the coast they wanted it to get to. This article interested me because I have seen this stuff on movies and cartoons before but never actually real life. I think it is crazy that this guys extremely old bottle just washed up 108 years later. This is probably a pretty big discovery for them and can tell about the past.

  • jonathani-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:48 a.m.

    They used bottles in back in the days because they didn't have postal offices or cars or planes.They also used bottles for messages because it takes to long in the road and if you put it in the water it would float.If I found that message that will be cool,because I would've been in tweentribune!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jairj-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:52 a.m.

    The people that were in the sea back then didn't have the a place to put the paper in. So they just put the paper in the bottle. But then they lost it and it is in the water so they can't get it.

  • alexism-148507-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:54 a.m.

    For the messages won't get damage.The message won't get torn.If the glass breaks the message will be safe of landing.The bottle will flow on the water and the message will be safe.

  • dalilac-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:56 a.m.

    People used bottles for messages because back then there wasn't any technology. Back then they used bottles to send messages to each other. They would write a note and put them in bottles and send them into shore. I think that it was smart of them to do that because if they traveled by foot they would not really survive because of the weather.

  • litzym-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    I think because back then they didn't have cars. Or maybe they couldn't travel where they lived. Or the guy that invented the message in the bottle was using it for an experiment. And he was checking how long it took and how many years and days.

  • isaiahd-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    Becues they dining have fones back then. An so they throw were ever it goes an they say you're dream comes true. Also becues but it takes for months.

  • juanj-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:57 a.m.

    I think they used bottles for messages because I think at that time there was no telephones like now we use telephones not bottles.And also they put postcards inside them and the bottles were part of a research project. The bottles were called bottom-trailer.

  • erickf-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:58 a.m.

    People used bottles for their messages because it was their best way of communicating with each other and their best way of technology because there were no phones.

  • alexandrag-san
    5/06/2016 - 11:58 a.m.

    The people used bottles for their messages because since in the 1900's there was still no postal service some people tried others ways to send mail.In biblical times people used birds but found out it took to long.In the 1800's people found an other way, bottles.This was when people believed pirates only do this until they tried it for themselves. When people notice this was a bit faster they keep on doing it.

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