(Australian Associated Press)
The world’s oldest known message in a bottle has been found half-buried at a West Australian beach nearly 132 years after it was tossed overboard into the Indian Ocean.
The previous world record for the oldest message in a bottle was 108 years, four months and 18 days between jettison and discovery.
The bottle was found near Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, and had been flung from the German sailing barque “Paula” in 1886 as part of a 69-year official experiment to better understand global ocean currents and find faster, more efficient shipping routes.
From 1864 until 1933, thousands of bottles were thrown into the sea from German ships, each containing a form on which the captain wrote the date it was jettisoned, the co-ordinates, the name of the ship, its home port and travel route.
On the back, the finder was asked to write when and where the bottle had been found and return it, either to the German Naval Observatory in Hamburg or the nearest German consulate.
Only 662 message slips were returned and none of the bottles.
The Wedge Island find takes that total to 663 and is the only known example of the type of bottle used.
The last bottle and note to be found was in 1934 in Denmark.
The latest find has been determined to be authentic by offshoots of the German Naval Observatory and the Western Australian Museum.
Perth woman Tonya Illman found the bottle and has loaned it to the museum to display for the next two years.