The world’s oldest message in the bottle had reportedly been found by an Australian woman on the shores of a beach near Wedge Island, Australia. According to The New York Times, Tonya Illman was just strolling down the beach in January when she stumbled upon the discolored old bottle poking through the sand. Illman apparently took the bottle home as she thought that it probably would make a nice decoration for her home.
When she brought the bottle home, her son’s girlfriend noticed that there was a small scroll hidden inside. The damp scroll was reportedly held in place with a piece of twine. The family didn’t initially attempt to open the scroll as it was too wet and opening it would likely have torn it apart. They then decided to put the scroll in the oven to let it dry. When they opened the scroll, they discovered that it was filled with German text. The family immediately took their discovery to the Western Australian Museum, where experts verified that the bottle, along with the note inside, actually dated back to the 19th century.
Further research revealed that the bottle was actually tossed off the side of a German ship in 1886. The bottle was part of an experiment by the German Naval Observatory to map out the ocean’s currents. The scroll had included a request to whoever would find it to fill out the details about where it was found and to immediately return it to the observatory in Hamburg or to the closest German consulate.
The particular bottle was reportedly dropped by a German vessel called the Paula. It was apparently one of thousands of bottles dropped between the 1860s and the 1930s. Majority of the bottles tossed into the sea were found and sent back to Germany, with the last one reportedly received by the observatory in 1934. Guinness World Records is currently still verifying the discovery. If proven to be authentic, the newly discovered message in the bottle will be declared as the oldest in the world. The current record is held by a bottle that was thrown into the sea 108 years ago. The newly found bottle along with the scroll is currently being put on display at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle.