It's official: A year after retired German postal worker Marianne Winkler discovered a message in a bottle on the German island of Amrun, Guinness World Records has confirmed it's the world’s oldest at 108 years, four months, and 18 days.
That beats out the former record holder by more than nine years. George Parker Bidder of the Marine Biological Association dropped 1,020 bottles off the coast of England between 1904 and 1906, each containing a note promising that whoever found it would be awarded a shilling, reports the Guardian.
Upon finding hers last April, Winkler spied a note inside: "Break the bottle." She tells the Plymouth Herald her husband tried to avoid that fate, but they ultimately shattered the vessel, removed the enclosed postcard, and followed Bidder's instructions: record when and where the bottle was found and return the card to the MBA in Plymouth.
There, the returned postcard left the receptionist "somewhat confused," rep Guy Baker tells the Independent, as Bidder—who ultimately became president of the MBA—had died in 1954.
Others, however, recognized the message from Bidder's bottle experiment, which allowed him to establish an east-to-west flow in the North Sea's deep-sea current. Baker says Bidder recorded a 55% return rate on the bottles, with many discovered by fisherman who enjoyed the shilling reward.
Winkler received the same. "We found an old shilling, I think we got it on eBay," Baker says. As for the note, "it is one of the earliest examples of a citizen science project and will now go on display somewhere." (A woman received a message in a bottle from her dead daughter.)
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