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1. A Poem in a Bottlealexi-nelson-message-in-a-bottle

Photo Credit: Alexi Nelson / ptleader.com

In 2010, three high school friends wrote a poem, sealed it in a bottle, and launched it in the sea, according to the Port Townsend Leader.

Their note was discovered on October 13th, 2016, when Dave Grant and Ben Carlson stumbled upon the bottle while assessing Naval Magazine Indian Island’s beach erosion for the US Navy.

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Photo Credit: komonews.com

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Photo Credit: ptleader.com

It reads in part:

We can make history, us three and thee, keeping the bottle roaming through land and through the sea.

Each time it re-enters the great ocean blue, the message grows stronger with each word anew.

Follow your heart, keep your head held high

The poem was signed, “The Three Brunettes,” one of whom was Alexi Nelson. The finders of the note, Grant and Carlson, made contact with Nelson who is about to graduate from college with a degree in Anthropology–so, maybe she will be the next to dig up a message in a bottle!

I love the creativity and positivity these three friends put into their bottled note!

There’s also a bit of mystery with this bottle, since it contained a second message I haven’t been able to figure out. If anyone out there knows about the second message, which you can see here, let me know!

2. Molly the Labrador Finds a Message in a Bottle!

Kate Gabriel’s black lab Molly is an expert beachcomber.

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Photo Credit: Kate Gabriel

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Photo Credit: Eastern Daily Press

As Kate explained to the Eastern Daily Press:

We go out walking every morning…and she loves me throwing things for her. But she picked up this bottle, and…I called her over and there was a message inside it. I’ve always wanted to find a message in a bottle.

I got to talk with Kate about Molly’s incredible find. The message was sent by a man named Nicolas and his family. Kate said:

The message was well thought through and carefully put together. The bottle was screwed shut then sealed with mastic. I know now that the Meulemans were on a day trip to the coast so Nicolas must have prepared it before they set off from home. Nicolas sent a great reply to my letter–loads of photos and postcards.

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We may maintain a correspondence or even meet up. Who knows? We have certainly made a connection across the sea – Brexit or no Brexit we have friends in Europe.

I love, love, love that Kate and Molly are intent on maintaining their friendship with the Muelmans on the other end of the bottle, regardless of whatever political nonsense is going on in the world. That’s part of the power of messages in bottles: the connection between sender and finder feels so magical that we cannot be driven apart by the standard divisive forces in the world (media, politicians, whatever). So, cheers to Kate and the Muelmans!

To read more about Kate & Molly and their message in a bottle–plus several other stories about dogs who have found messages in bottles–just click here. 

3. Sting!

Well, this one isn’t really a message in a bottle. I’m cheating! It’s the mind-bogglingly famous song we all know–Sting’s “Message in a Bottle”. In Summer 2016, Sting performed the song solo, acoustic, at the Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf. The amazing students of the school provide sign language for the song, backing him up. This video is truly beautiful and you are missing out if you don’t grant yourself a few minutes to enjoy this beautiful moment:

4. Pip Manby Finds Two Messages in Bottles From the Same Person

I might ask Pip Manby of Scotland to buy me a lottery ticket. I mean, I don’t know how lucky you have to be to find two messages in bottles, months apart, sent by the same person (but sent on different days), but that’s the kind of lucky Pip is. When she told me her story, I was blown away. I shared her story in a blog post which you can read by clicking here.

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The first message in a bottle from Craig Drover.

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The second message in a bottle from Craig Drover.

In the post about Pip’s finds, I also shared thoughts from the sender, Craig Drover. I just can’t get over their astronomically unlikely connection via two messages in bottles.

5. Art in a Bottle

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Photo Credit: Brigitte Barthelmy / NY Pelagic

Artist George Boorujy became concerned with marine plastic pollution after learning about the great pacific garbage patch. Of course, we now know that there are garbage patches in every ocean, as we dump about 8,000,000 tons of plastic debris into the ocean each year.

To raise awareness of how harmful marine plastic pollution is–especially to birds–Boorujy started sketching water birds and launching those sketches into the sea, bottled up with notes explaining the extent of the plastic pollution crisis.

One of those bottles made it all the way to France, where, amazingly, it was found by another artist–Brigitte Barthelemy.

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Photo Credit: Brigitte Barthelmy / NY Pelagic

When Brigitte opened the bottle, she found the letter explaining the plastic pollution crisis, along with a pencil sketch of one of the many kinds of birds harmed by plastic trash at sea–a cormorant:

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Photo Credit: Brigitte Barthelmy / NY Pelagic

It may seem ironic that someone trying to raise awareness about pollution at sea would throw a bottle into the ocean. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense: the bottle washing ashore proves that the things we throw into the sea don’t just magically vanish. They come back to us. The sea gives back to us what we give to it. For years, we have been giving the sea garbage, and now, we are reaping what we have sown. Fortunately, you and I are smart enough to know we shouldn’t eat the plastic that washes ashore. Marine birds and animals, however, mistake plastic bits for food, and it kills them by obstructing their digestive tracts.

To me, Boorujy’s project of raising awareness makes perfect sense. The next step, for those of us who are concerned about this, is to do something about it.

6. 35 Year Old Message in a Bottle Pulled From Grand River

On Monday, March 30th, 1981, Marcia Polly was walking home from school in Michigan when she spotted an empty liquor bottle lying beside the road, and an idea came to her. She carried the bottle with her to a nearby bridge over the Grand River. It was a river she had crossed hundreds of times. But this time, as she told the Lansing State Journal,

“I thought, ‘What would happen if I threw a message in a bottle into the water? Would anyone ever get it? I was going to be 19 that summer. I thought if somebody found it who knows what it could lead to?”

Polly might have hoped for a speedy discovery, but her bottle would lie hidden for decades.

On Thursday, November 3rd, 2016, Nathan Foote discovered Marcia’s bottle, bobbing amid debris in the water just 12 miles from where she sent it all those years ago.

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Nathan Foote with Marcia Polly’s 1981 Message in a Bottle. Photo Credit: Dave Wasinger / Lansing State Journal

The message was simple enough–it asked the finder to contact Marcia Polly and she gave her address. Of course, the contact info was a bit out of date when Foote found it.

But Foote was determined to find Polly, and with help from social media and Polly’s family and friends, he did! The two met and Nathan reunited Marcia with her bottled note.

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Photo Credit: Rachel Greco / Lansing State Journal

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Photo Credit: Rachel Greco / Lansing State Journal

Nathan Foote went to the river that day to clean up trash, and in the midst of it, found an incredible treasure that connected him to a neighbor, and brought back a special moment in her youth. On top of that, Foote understood that finding the message in a bottle was just the beginning of an adventure. Cheers to Nathan and Marcia!

7. Biker Bob

When Biker Bob passed away, whoever he may be, his ashes were placed in a bottle along with a note: “If you find me, turn me loose”. Below the writing is a heart drawn around the initials B.B.

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Biker Bob’s Note. Photo Credit: Cheknews.ca

According to Chek News, Justun Bevis of Vancouver Island found the bottle in November 2015, and sent Bob back on his way. Amazingly, in February 2016, Bob was picked up again by Caleb Harding, who planned to reseal and release Biker Bob once again.

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Biker Bob’s Bottle. Photo Credit: Cheknews.ca

Here’s hoping Biker Bob continues to travel far and wide in 2017!

8. Surfers Against Sewage Message in a Bottle

2016 saw the launch of environmental group Surfers Against Sewage’s “Message in a Bottle” campaign.

Surfers Against Sewage point out that the UK uses millions and millions of plastic water bottles each day. They note that many of these bottles will end up in waterways and the ocean, where they will injure and kill wildlife. The Message in a Bottle campaign aims to raise awareness of the pollution crisis created by unchecked plastic bottle production, and calls for the creation of a deposit system like that used in Germany and elsewhere to encourage folks to return plastic bottles for reuse and recycling rather than simply throwing them away.

I can see why this matter is of special importance in the UK. I mean, when I was strolling down the road in Starcross, near Exeter, I peaked over and saw this in the ditch–and this wasn’t even the worst stretch:

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So Surfers Against Sewage has my full support. It’s a great campaign, and demonstrates yet again how the idea of a message in a bottle is powerful, and can be used to fight pollution.

Here’s hoping the UK implements a bottle deposit system ASAP! Click here to show your support. 

9. Honorable Mention: World’s “Worst” Message in a Bottle

According to the MirrorRobbie Chappell, 13, was out for a beach walk with his mom and dog when he found a message in a beer bottle. He carried it home and filmed the opening with hopes of having an exciting story.

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Imagine his surprise when he found this note inside!

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See the date? That was the day before Robbie found it!

The message couldn’t have traveled more than a few hundred yards, as it had been sent the day before. Good thing Robbie has a sense of humor. He and his family began referring to this as the “world’s worst message in a bottle”. I doubt Robbie will become penpals with the senders–but I do hope he keeps looking for inspiring messages in bottles. Robbie’s find, though, goes to show that you can find just about anything in bottles, and it’s a reminder that messages in bottles are as diverse as humanity itself.

As we come to the end of another year of magical discoveries, beautiful new friendships, and rediscovered memories, we look forward to a new year. And do you know what I expect to come in this next year? More magical discoveries, more beautiful friendships, and the making of more fond memories. I hope you find all these things and more in 2017! Cheers to 2016–and here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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