98 Year Old Message in a Bottle

98 Year Old Message in a Bottle Found in Scottish Fisherman’s Net

It seems like fishermen have all the luck when it comes to finding very old messages in bottles. In 2012, Andrew Leaper, skipper of the Scottish fishing vessel Copious, hauled in his net to find a bottle snagged in the rope, according to the BBC. When he retrieved it, he discovered it was a 98 year old message in a bottle, sent in 1914. At the time of its discovery, Andrew Leaper’s message in a bottle was the oldest ever found.

98 year old message in a bottle - Andrew Leaper's find.

Andrew Leaper’s 98 year old message in a bottle. Photo: Marine Scotland.

Amazingly, the previous record holder, at about 93 years old, was hauled in by the same ship–the Copious–a fact Leaper described as “an amazing coincidence”.  That one was found by Leaper’s friend, Mark Anderson, in 2006.

98 year old message in a bottle - Andrew Leaper at helm of Copious.

Andrew Leaper at the helm of Copious

A few years later, a German fisherman would break Leaper’s record by finding a 101 year old note in a bottle. That record, in turn, would be broken by Marianne Winkler’s 108 year old find in 2015.

But at the time, Leaper held the record for the oldest message in a bottle ever found.

98 year old message in a bottle - Andrew Leaper with his bottle and Guinness Records Certificate.

Andrew Leaper with his 98 year old message in a bottle and Guinness World Records certificate.

What Did the 98 Year Old Message in a Bottle Say?

This message in a bottle was fascinating, if not terribly romantic! According to the BBC, “The drift bottle – containing a postcard which promised a reward of six pence to the finder – was released in June 1914 by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation. It was in a batch of 1,890 scientific research bottles which were specially designed to sink to help map the currents of the seas around Scotland when they were returned.”

So it’s a Scottish message through and through! Sent by the Glasgow School of Navigation, and found by a Scottish vessel.

Andrew Leaper 98 year old message in a bottle front of post card

Front of the 98 year old post card Andrew Leaper found in a bottle.

Captain Brown used the responses he gathered to generate maps of the ocean currents near Scotland. In fact, here’s one such map of Scottish currents from the time, drawn using data from “drift bottles” like the one Leaper found:

Experiments like these formed the basis of oceanographic knowledge for much of the 20th century. Even today, scientists use drift cards to study surface currents.

As for Leaper, he described himself as “immensely proud” of his find at the time. And, while there may be a different record holder for now, I wouldn’t discount Leaper and the Copious just yet! Indeed, they may be just one fishing trip away from becoming world record holders a third time. Only time will tell…