Message in a Bottle Myths

Message in a Bottle Myths Debunked

From the moment I found my first message in a bottle, I wanted to know the true history behind this strange and wonderful phenomenon. But the more I delved into the history of messages in bottles, the more I realized that some of the most famous stories are actually nothing more than myths and legends.

But I also found that even real-life message in a bottle stories requires some suspension of disbelief. Because of that, several message in a bottle myths have snuck into the popular consciousness, right under our critical radars.

Often, these myths are repeated by some of our biggest information outlets, like Wikipedia (which of course can be edited by anyone–no credentials required)–so we can be forgiven for thinking they might be true.

Thus, we are left with several popular but untrue message in a bottle legends that need debunking, once and for all. As wonderful as it would be if these stories were true, the fact is that they are not true. Some of these myths can be traced to their birth, as in the myth about Queen Elizabeth’s “Official Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”. Others have taken shape piece by piece over time, evolving so slowly that no one is sure when these myths came into existence. Of this ilk, the myth about Theophrastus being the first sender of messages in bottles is a great example.

Personally, I think it’s a pity that they get so much attention, because they distract from other stories of messages in bottles that are actually true, and even more amazing. But in the interest of putting these myths and legends to bed, I’ve done deep dives to discover the truth. Pick a myth below to learn how it came to be.

Message in a Bottle Myth #1: Queen Elizabeth I created a position called the “Official Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”.

Queen Elizabeth I as a princess. A popular message in a bottle myth says that she appointed an "Official Uncorker of Ocean Bottles" but she never did.

Message in a Bottle Myth #2: Theophrastus, an ancient Greek philosopher, sent messages in bottles as early as 300 B.C.

Statue of Theophrastus with Scroll, but no bottle.