A Scotland Skipper has the newest bragging rights over a 98-year-old message in a bottle he scooped up in his fishing nets — and the find has set a world record.
Fisherman Andrew Leaper discovered the bottle in his nets in April while he was sailing east of the Shetland Islands (off of Scotland’s northern coast), reports The Washington Post.
Leaper’s find has been confirmed by the Guinness World Records as being the oldest message in a bottle ever recorded. The bottle, released in 1914, beat the previous record by five years.
It was released as part of a batch of 1,890 bottles in a government experiment to map the undercurrents of the areas around Scotland. Leaper was excited about the rare find, but noted that there was no romantic message inside.
Instead, inside the bottle he discovered a postcard, which asks the finder to record details of the discovery, with a promise of a sixpence reward.
The fishing vessel he was skippering at the time of the find is, coincidentally, the same Shetland-based vessel (Copious), which set the previous record, according to The BBC. Leaper said, “It was an amazing coincidence.”
Only 315 of the 1,890 scientific research bottles have been found since 1914, meaning that there could still be more out there, if they survived the past 98 years. Leaper, 43, recalled how he found the bottle, saying:
“As we hauled in the nets I spotted the bottle neck sticking out and I quickly grabbed it before it fell back in the sea. It was very exciting to find the bottle and I couldn’t wait to open it. It’s like winning the lottery twice. This is a fascinating record, both historically and scientifically. We hope that future expeditions will retrieve more of these treasured messages from the sea.”
A spokesperson for Guinness World Records noted how excited they were to hear that the same vessel helped to break the record for the oldest message in a bottle twice in a row. Both the bottle and Leaper’s Guinness World Records certificate were donated to the Fetlar Interpretative Centre in Shetland.