About Message in a Bottle Hunter – Why I Find Messages in Bottles
Ahoy! My name is Clint Buffington, and I find messages in bottles and then share the stories of the people who sent them. I also help connect others who have sent or found messages in bottles, because, if you ask me, every new friendship makes the world…well, friendlier! And I think we could use a bit more of that, don’t you?
Here’s a little video about what I do and why.
I am perennially amazed by the power of messages in bottles. They may seem silly to some, but, personally, I find that messages in bottles have the power to connect people in profound ways. Messages in bottles create real friendships between strangers; they make people care about each other–people who never even knew each other existed before. And, especially with older messages, a message in a bottle may be the most important letter some ever receive.
Messages in bottles have saved lives, led to marriage, and reunited folks with lost loved ones. In my view, there’s nothing silly about them (except for the ones that are intended to be jokes, like this one.)
How I Found My First Message in a Bottle
I found my first message in a bottle in 2007. I must have walked past several thousand bottles that day—I had almost zoned out when something caught my eye: a blue bottle lying on the sand, like it had just washed up. There was something inside! I stumbled over to the bottle and held it up, examining the contents: bright orange paper rolled up tightly and tied with a piece of string that poked out the top of the bottle which had a rubber cork. Wrapped around the message inside were two US dollars.
That bottle sparked something in me that led to finding more messages, and led to this blog. The idea of finding even a single message in a bottle had always enchanted me–but to find dozens of them?! How could I NOT write about it?!
Why I Will Always Look for Messages in Bottles
Over time, I found that most people who send messages in bottles are wonderful, kind, friendly folks, who enjoy making friends with the person on the other end of their bottle.
Thanks to a lot of walking and a lot of luck, I had the chance to be the subject of the 2019 award-winning documentary, The Tides That Bind, directed by Nick Natalicchio. This film has given me the chance to share my passion (aka “strange hobby”) with folks far and wide. Here’s the trailer for the film:
Making this film allowed me to meet Ray from Philly, who I had been seeking for over a year since I found his bottle in 2015! I also met other message in a bottle authors, and was reminded of the strange power of bottled letters to connect people who never could have met any other way.
Messages in Bottles Lead to Environmental Lesson
My hunt for messages in bottles started as pure adventure–the thrill of finding them is intense! However, although I go looking for “treasure,” what I mostly find is trash. Looking for messages in bottles opened my eyes to the staggering problem of plastic pollution in our oceans.
The sheer volume of plastic trash on our beaches and in our seas is overwhelming and a little scary. We are entering uncharted waters here: we know that human life depends on the ocean, but we don’t know what will happen as more and more plastic ends up in the ocean. We know that is chokes out marine life, kills birds, fish, and mammals, and enters the food chain. But we don’t know what will be the fallout from all of this.
Marine critters are killed by plastic trash at a rate that is both alarming and difficult to measure precisely, due to the size of the ocean and the scale of plastic pollution. Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and all kinds of sea-dwelling birds are dying everywhere with bellies full of plastic. I see the impact of plastic on marine life everywhere I look for messages in bottles. Check out this Osprey who built a nest using the very kinds of plastic ropes that can entangle its young and itself:
The heart of this website is and always will be adventure, plain and simple. There is simply nothing on earth like the thrill of finding messages in bottles and journeying to meet the senders in distant places. This is why I find messages in bottles, after all.
But there is a bigger adventure underway–one we can all join: the adventure of learning about plastic pollution, and doing something to stop it–even if it just means picking up a plastic bottle you see on the sidewalk (and definitely never sending a message in a plastic bottle).
I hope you’ll join me as I continue to find messages in bottles and meeting the folks who send them, while shedding light on the plastic pollution crisis along the way!