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Adrift for 100 years: world’s oldest message in a bottle

A postcard returned to Great Britain’s Marine Biological Association was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest message in a bottle ever found.

More than 1,000 bottles containing postcards were released in the southern North Sea in the early years of the 20th Century as part of the MBA’s research into ocean currents and the behavior of commercial fish. The message in the bottle had been drifting on currents for 108 years, 4 months and 18 days before being picked up by a walker on a beach on Amrum island, one of the North Frisian Islands on the German North Sea coast.

George Parker Bidder, a founder of the MBA and creator of the bottle experiment, reported a return rate from fishermen (encouraged by a one shilling reward) of around 55 percent over the years.

The MBA honored the promise on the postcard and sent a reward of one shilling to the finder, according an announcement by the MBA.

The MBA said this week that the bottle had smashed the old record of 99 years and 43 days in the Guinness World Records.

The older bottle was discovered by a retired German postal worker named Marianne Winkler, who was there on vacation, according to a statement from Discovery News.

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

The Winklers could see it was old, but had no idea how old as the card was undated. They duly followed the instructions to fill in the date and where it was found, then put the card in an envelope to preserve it and mailed it off, copying the printed address to G.P. Bidder, according to a report by Britain’s The Guardian newspaper.