The World’s Oldest Message In A Bottle Found After 108 Years At Sea

The world’s oldest message in a bottle has been found after 108 years at sea. The record-breaking bottle and postcard were found in April 2015 by a retired German postal worker Marianne Winkler. Winkler found the bottle during a holiday to the German island of Amrum on the North Sea coast.

The 108-year-old message in a bottle instructed the finder to send the bottle back to the U.K.’s Marine Biological Association in exchange for a shilling (5p). The Sun has confirmed that Winkler followed the instructions on the postcard, sent the bottle back to the U.K., and has received an English shilling for returning the 108-year-old bottle to the Marine Biological Association.

Guy Baker, the communications officer at the Marine Biological Association, said that they were determined Winkler would get the proper reward for returning the bottle after 108 years.

“We found an old shilling, I think we got it on eBay. We sent it to her with a letter saying thank you,” he said.

The Guinness World Records has confirmed that the message in a bottle found after 108 years, four months, and 18 days of its release is now the world’s oldest message in a bottle found and that Winkler has been attributed in the Guinness World Records as finding it. The 108-year-old bottle has beaten out the previous record of a message in a bottle found off the Shetland Islands in July 2013 after 99 years and 43 days according to Newsweek.


Winkler thought the whole experience was delightful and happily followed the instructions on the self-addressed postcard sent over a century ago.

“It’s always a joy when someone finds a message in a bottle…Where does it come from, who wrote it and how long has it been traveling on the winds, waves and currents?” she said.

The message in a bottle found after 108 years was thrown into the ocean in 1906 as part of a research project carried out by a marine biologist, George Parker Bidder. Bidder was president of the U.K.’s Marine Biological Association from 1939 until 1945, an association which still stands today. Bidder and his team launched more than a thousand bottles into the north sea as part of an experiment.


Baker, who now works for the same Marine Biological Association, said that finding the bottle after 108 years and holding the message is magical. It also continues the experiment set out by Bidder.

“I think having this postcard in your hand that has been floating around the sea for such a long time is amazing. It is a really nice link with the past, to a time when the Marine Biological Association was establishing itself and marine biology was increasing in importance.”

“The postcard asked the finder to fill out information about where the bottle was found, whether it was trawled up, what the boat’s name was. And it asked that once the postcard was completed for it to be returned to a George Parker Bidder in Plymouth, for a reward of one shilling.” he said.


“Bidder said his bottles were trawled up by fishermen at the rate of 55 per cent a year…Some bottles were never returned, assumed to be lost in the open ocean forever.”

The find of the 108-year-old bottle shows that all the messages were not lost at sea but are still floating around, adding to the experiment first set by Bidder in 1906. The aim of the experiment was to see how far the bottles would go, thus discovering more about river flow and currents. The floating bottles, for the most part, moved across the North Sea towards the continent. He deduced from this that river outflow causes a shore-ward flow of denser salt water. This is said to be Bidder’s most significant find from his bottle experiments.


[Image via Shutterstock]