Postal worker finds 108-year-old message in a bottle
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: 1280L

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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, and then bobbed along for 108 years, 4 months and 18 days until its journey finally ended when Marianne Winkler, a retired postal worker on holiday on Amrum Island, one of Germany's North Frisian Islands, found it washed up on shore in 2015.
Though she didn't know it at the time, the message in a bottle was the oldest ever recovered, and earned Winkler a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

When Winkler first found the bottle, she could see a message inside telling her to break it open, but she hesitated. Winkler and her husband could tell that the bottle was old and 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 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 posted 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, who died in 1954 at the age of 91. According to Corey Fedde at the Christian Science Monitor, the staff searched around on eBay to find a shilling, a unit of currency that went out of circulation in Great Britain in the early 1970s, to send to Winkler.
Winkler's bottle was not the only one Bidder sent to sea. Between 1904 and 1906, he released thousands of bottles with postcards in them as part of a research project to map currents in the North Sea. He used special bottles he called "bottom-trailers," which were weighted so they would sink, but 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, something the MBA says might be one of the first citizen science projects ever recorded.
"This was the best technology available at the time," Guy Baker, communications officer for the Marine Biological Association tells Fedde. "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, and 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, which was found by a Scottish skipper near the Shetland Islands in 2012.

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

  • mirandaw-bur
    5/09/2016 - 09:09 a.m.

    Because they didn't have the stuff we have now to get messages to people

  • hayleighm-bur
    5/09/2016 - 09:10 a.m.

    Because, there was no other way to communicate other than that. So they would write messages and put them in bottles. They would throw them in the sea. They had to communicate someway or another. This was their way of it.

  • summerh-bur
    5/09/2016 - 09:10 a.m.

    Because bottles are sealed and water proof and can carry notes across the waters.

  • johns1-bur
    5/09/2016 - 09:10 a.m.

    They used it because it was the best technology they had to use

  • sieeral-bur
    5/09/2016 - 09:15 a.m.

    People use bottles for many reasons. One reason is when a message is inside so it will not get wet when it is dropped into the ocean. The bottle keeps the message safe also after 108 years the message is able to be unraveled.

  • haleym-bur
    5/10/2016 - 07:57 a.m.

    If they were at sea than they have no other way to post a letter other than putting it in a bottle and throwing it in the sea

  • cadenh-bur
    5/10/2016 - 08:14 a.m.

    Because it will float on the water.and then it could go all the way across the sea and get were it needed to go.and then most people use bottles if they have people chasing them and need to translate a letter or information to somebody else.

  • mayrar-bur
    5/10/2016 - 08:57 a.m.

    People have used bottle for their messages so that the paper wouldn't decay .Without the bottle the paper would never reach near the destination .Making it hard for others to receive .It seems cheaper and a more fancier way to doing things.Espically if you wanted to secretly give a message to someone with mailing it .

  • tyb-ver
    5/20/2016 - 10:12 a.m.

    I think it is amazing that someone found a bottle like that

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