Have you ever sent a message in a bottle? Written a little love note, thrown it out to sea, and let the current take your words and deliver them to your future beloved in some faraway land like Costa Rica or Australia or Seattle? Well, you may have to wait a liiiiiitle bit longer to hear back from your Future Bae, because what is potentially the world's oldest message in a bottle just washed up in Germany. It's over 100 years old, and if it took one measley little letter that long to reappear? Well, let's just say it's not looking good for the one you launched into the waves a mere five years ago.
The message, discovered by retired postal worker Marianne Winkler, appeared on the shores of Germany's Amrum Island in April. But although letters in bottles have a reputation for being romantic, this one wasn't a love note. There was, in fact, no romance in it whatsoever. It was just part of a really, really old science experiment. Not that science isn't cool — but, well... you get what I mean, right?
Here's the deal: Between 1904 and 1906, British researcher George Parker Bidder released 1,000 weighted bottles into the North Sea to test currents. By marking where the bottles washed up, Bidder was able to track the Sea's bottom water movement. Kind of. Most of them were trawled up by fishermen decades ago.
I should probably note that Bidder later became president of the UK's Marine Biological Association. He was a very smart and accomplished dude, and any shade that you are detecting from me is just latent disappointment that the message wasn't a heartbreaking confession of love and loss.
Anyway, Winkler found the message while on vacation, just hanging out on the beach. Inside the bottle, she found instructions asking her to send an enclosed postcard to the Marine Biological Association along with a description of where the bottle was found. As a reward: a shilling, which is worth about 27 U.S. cents today. It's not a whole lot, but it also that means Bidder was ultimately willing to pay quite a bit if every bottle was found.
Here is the bottle, full of possibility, before it was opened and revealed to be not a love note:
The Marine Biological Association is still very much a thing, and they were pretty stoked to receive their former president's postcard after it took 108 years to float 310 miles. So that's a nice ending for them. Also, the Guinness Book of World Records is in the process of officially declaring Bidder's bottle to be the oldest message in a bottle ever found, which is another bit of good news.
I, however, will hold out hope that one day, an even older message will be found, and a sweeping, emotional, centuries-old tale of romance will unfold. One day, my friends. One day.