The world’s oldest message in a bottle has been recovered by a former postal worker vacationing in Amrum, an island off the coast of northern Germany. The bottle was released into the North Sea as part of a research experiment more than a century ago, and contained instructions for its return.

George Parker Bidder, once the president of the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, U.K., released more than a thousand similar bottles between 1904 and 1906 as part of his research into sea currents. Carried along by deep sea currents and later recovered by fishermen or by people exploring along shore, the bottles helped Bidder determine that the North Sea’s current flows east to west. Most were found after only a few months.


George Parker Bidder

Inside the bottle, a piece of paper instructed whoever found it to break open the glass. When Marianne Winkler, who found the bottle in April, complied with the instructions, she found a post card addressed to the Marine Biological Association, which is still up and running. The association believes this bottle was one of the last sent out by Bidder, released sometime in 1906, and it’s working on getting the 108-year-old find confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest message in a bottle ever recovered. The current record is held by a 99-year-old message.

[h/t: The Telegraph]

All images from the MBA archive.