If you’re a romantic at heart, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “message in a bottle.” It’s what it sounds like — a message thrown into the ocean that’s meant to find someone at a later time. Just recently, a message in a bottle washed up on shore in Western Australia, and it may very well be a piece of history.
The bottle was discovered by a couple, Tonya and Kym Illman, while they walked along the beach. Initially identified as an old bottle of gin, it took them a moment to realize that there was a scroll with words inside. The scroll was dated back to June 1886, and the words were all in German.
Turns out the bottle dates back to a research project from 132 years ago. Ross Anderson, assistant curator at the Western Australian Museum, spoke with The Guardian to confirm that the message inside wasn’t a fake. According to Anderson, ships would sail out to research ocean currents, and in order to collect data, they threw messages overboard that included the date, the name of the ship, and the ship’s coordinates. The message then asked that the finder send the message to a specific address and include the location in which the bottle was found.
This particular message came from a ship named Paula, and was thrown as those aboard were crossing the Indian Ocean. The bottle is reported to be one of thousands that were thrown, and it currently holds the record for being the oldest found in history. Kind of amazing.