The world’s oldest message in a bottle has been discovered on a beach in Western Australia, almost 132 years after it was thrown into the ocean.
The previous record for oldest message in a bottle was an artifact that washed up in Germany in 2015, some 108 years, four months and 18 days after it was thrown into the North Sea as part of a British research project.
The mysterious bottle in Australia was half-buried in sand when it was discovered by Tonya Illman just north Wedge Island, 112 miles north of Perth. With her son’s car bogged in the beach’s soft sand, Illman spotted the object nearby.
An Australian family discovered a bottle half-buried in the sand of tiny Wedge Island, about 88 miles north of Perth. Inside was a tightly rolled piece of paper.
“(We) were walking across the dunes when I saw something sticking out of the sand so I went to take a closer look,” discoverer Tonya Illman said.
“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.”
The bottle was handed to the Western Australian Museum for analysis, who coordinated with German and Dutch agencies to research its history.
The message read:
“This bottle was thrown overboard on June 12, 1886 at latitude 32° 49′ South and longitude 105° 25′ from Greenwich East.
From: Bark Ship Paula, Port: Elsfleth, Captain: D [illegible], On her journey from Cardiff to Macassar.
The finder is requested to send the slip in the bottle to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg or the nearest consulate for the return to the same agency after filling in the information on the back.”