Sunday, May 26, 2024

Breaking Island News

Australia: World’s Oldest Message in a Bottle Found on Wedge Island


The world’s oldest message in a bottle has washed up on a remote beach on Australia’s Wedge Island: some 132 years after its writer threw it from into the Indian Ocean

  • A Perth family has found the world’s oldest known message in a bottle on a remote beach in Australia
  • The note in the bottle was dated June 12th 1886 and features a reference to the German naval observatory ship “Paula”
  • Experts have confirmed the authenticity of the message, which is believed to have been written by German explorer naval expert Captain O. Diekmann

A coastal walk ended in a big surprise for Perth-resident Tonya Illman last week. During a leisurely stroll with her family along the beach of Wedge Island, Ms Illman stumbled across an unusual-looking bottle. Thinking it might make for a nice ornament, she decided to take the bottle home with her.

A closer look revealed that the bottle contained a tightly rolled up piece of paper. Too wet and fragile to open up immediately, the family decided to take it home and investigate further. After placing the paper in the oven to dry and carefully unrolling the document, they received the surprise of their lives: the letter was dated June 12th 1886.

“You could clearly see where the twine had made indents into the paper.” explained Tonya. “This suggested to us that it had been in this state for a very long time.  “The first thing that caught my eye was the year field, 18__.” confessed Ms Illman. After researching the bottle online and take it to a team of experts at the Western Australian Museum,

Dr Ross Anderson, Assistant Curator of Maritime Archeology, was tasked with testing the veracity of the message and after consulting with experts in the Europe confirmed that the letter originated from a “Paula”, a German naval observatory ship which was taked with researching ocean and shipping routes in the Indian Ocean during the 19th Century.

“Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula’s original Meteorological Journal and there was an entry for 12 June 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard. The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message,” explained Dr Anderson.

A hand-writing analysis also matched, allowing experts from the Guiness Book of Records to confirm the 132-year-old finding as the oldest known message in a bottle. Prior to this, the oldest known message in a bottle – a mysterious postcard found on the shores of Amrum Island, Germany – was 108 years old.

“The bottle was jettisoned in the south-eastern Indian Ocean, and probably washed up on the Australian coast within 12 months, where it was buried under the sand,” he continued.

The Illman family has now loaned the bottle out to the Western Australian Museum, where it will be displayed to the public for the next two years.

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