Messages in bottles

In Pen Pal, Em puts a message in a bottle and throws it into the Gulf of Mexico. It ends up in the hands of Kaya, half a world away. How likely is such a scenario in real life? Remarkably, there are lots of interesting stories of message in bottles. Below are some that I collected between January 2014 and June 2016, in reverse chronological order.  

Header image: iStockphoto.

  • Spanish fisherman finds Maine teen's message in a bottle

    The fisherman who found Terra Gallo's message, three years after she set it afloat, complied with her wishes and added his message to hers and set the bottle afloat again. "I hope you are as thrilled to receive this letter as I was when I found your bottle and I hope we'll receive more answers when I return the bottle to the sea," he wrote. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • from Newfoundland to the Isle of Man

    Lauren, a Cub Scout, set a message in a plastic bottle afloat from Newfoundland. It traveled to the Isle of Man, where two boys retrieved it. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Vietnam War era message in a bottle

    A sister's remembrance of her brother, who fought in the Vietnam War, washed ashore in Marinette, Wisconsin, at the edge of Green Bay. "This is my big brother Billy. I loved him, but he never came home," she wrote. Photos and a map were stuffed in a tiny Gerber baby food jar. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • More traveling ashes

    A Tennessee woman put the ashes of her husband of 70 years in a bottle and set it afloat in the ocean off the Florida keys. It has washed up a couple of times, most recently picked up by a Wisconsin coffee shop owner. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked Facebook post
  • Ukrainian message in a bottle--in a train locomotive

    A 32-year-old message in a bottle was found in a train locomotive on display at a museum-style playground in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The message was left there, time-capsule style, when the engine was first prepped for the playground. Read more here.

    Photo is a screenshot from the video at the linked site.
  • Man's ashes, traveling by bottle, arrive in Cape Breton

    The ashes of Gary Robert Dupuis are accompanied by $25.00 and a request: "If you find him, please take this money, buy yourself and Gary a drink and release him back in the ocean." Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Glittery message crosses the North Sea

    Ten-year-old Eva put a message and some glitter in a bottle and threw it in the North Sea. Six months later it was picked up by 7-year-old Signe, 400 miles away in Norway. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article.
  • A boy writes to his best friend

    Jonathan Torres put a message to his best friend Daniel, who had passed away, in a soda bottle and threw it in the ocean. "Dear Daniel ... if you were alive me and you would be playing football, soccer and basketball ... I am in the fifth grade and you were my best friend," he wrote. Read more here.

    Photo by Steve Mershon, who found the bottle
  • Sisters sought a pen pal

    Two sisters in West Virginia put a message in a bottle and floated it down the Cacapon River, hoping it would catch them a pen pal. Twenty-seven years later, a couple on a fishing trip found it, and at long last a connection was made. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Message by balloon

    As a way to cope with the loss of her little girl's father, Lauren released a balloon, with messages to "daddy in heaven" written on it. The balloon traveled 600 miles, from Virginia to New York, where it was found by another single mom, Brianna. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Noelia finds a letter from the living to the dead

    On a trip with her class to a beach in Galicia, Spain, nine-year-old Noelia found an English-language message in a bottle that a woman wrote to a friend of hers who had died. Noelia's teacher translated the message for the class, and now they're hoping to find the sender. Read more here.

    Photo: Senda Nova
  • Fishing for friends

    A couple in Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland, find new friends by throwing messages into the sea near their home. Their bottles have traveled to Norway, Scotland, and Ireland. Read more here.

    One of the McCarthys' messages.
  • Nova Scotia Twins' message travels to Scotland

    A scallop trawler dropped Tony and Alex's message far from shore, and it traveled to Drummore, Scotland's southernmost town. Read more here

    Photo from the linked story.
  • From the easternmost point in North America to a tiny Channel Island

    Twelve-year-old Justin Greene put a bottle in the ocean at Cape Spear, North America's easternmost point. It traveled to the English Channel island of Alderney, which is barely 5 kilometers long. Read more here.

    The tiny island of Alderney, courtesy of Google Maps.
  • Five messages in a bottle

    Four messages in English and one in French travelled in a bottle from French Polynesia, where friends on a sailing adventure had set them afloat, to North Queensland, Australia. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article.
  • The ashes of Biker Bob

    A bottle containing the ashes of "Biker Bob" and a note saying "If you find me, turn me loose" is making its way around the western coast of Canada. Read more here.

    Photo from Victoria Buzz on Facebook.
  • Artist's message in a bottle found by another artist

    The artist George Boorujy put a drawing of a cormorant in a bottle and set it afloat off the coast of New York City's Staten Island. It traveled across the Atlantic and was discovered in Royan, France, by Brigitte Barthélémy, who is also an artist. Mr. Boorujy tells the tale in full here.

    Mr. Boorujy's cormorant, from his blog post linked above.
  • A message travels to the sender's ancestral home

    Jamie Picken and his young family put a message in a bottle into the North Sea in Hartlepool, Durham, UK. It traveled to Denmark, where it was picked up by German visitors very close to the town where Jamie's great-great grandmother was born. Read more here.

    Jamie's Danish great-great grandmother. Photo from the story linked above.
  • A message in a bottle travels the coast of Wales

    Gwynfor Griffiths's message in a bottle, thrown from a pier in Caernarfon in 1992, traveled around the peninsula of Aberdaron and was retrieved in Abersoch almost 24 years later by Jonathan Scott. Read more here.

    The message contained a diagram of Gwynfor Griffiths throwing the message off the pier (Source: article linked above)
  • A message with a $20 bill

    Ten years ago a church employee put a religious message in a bottle, along with a $20 bill, and set it afloat in the Sangamon River in Illinois, where it lingered until high waters brought it to the attention of 12-year-old Kali and her friend. It had traveled less than three miles. Kali and her friend were excited to find the message and are considering purchasing some candy. Read more here.

    Flooding in January 2016 on the Sangamon River brought this 10-year-old message in a bottle to light.
  • "We stuffed a crab down Andrews little brothers shirt"

    In 1994, a twelve-year-old wrote a message, put it in a bottle, and set it afloat in the Rappahannock River in Virginia. She wrote the note with her friend Andrew and said she wanted to be an artist--a lot like Em in Pen Pal. Read more here.

    Photo from linked article
  • From the Maldives to Chennai, India

    A couple on their honeymoon in the Maldives had a bottle of champagne to celebrate catching a really large fish. They wrote a message about their feat (and honeymoon) and put it in the empty bottle, which they tossed in the sea. The bottle crossed the Indian Ocean and washed up on Pattipulam beach in Chennai. Read more here.

    Photo of Pattipulam beach from the blog Asha's Musings & Ramblings
  • A message at a Mayan temple

    A woman whose fiancé died before they could be married left a heartfelt remembrance in a bottle at the Mayan temple in Uxmal, Mexico.

    "My name is Katy, and I am supposed to be on my honeymoon. However, a week before I was supposed to marry the love of my life, my best friend, he passed away," she wrote.

    The finder of her message posted it on Reddit, where it has received over 300,000 views. Read more here.

    Photo of one page of Katy's remembrance, from the linked story.
  • message in a bottle--in a wall

    Eighty-two years ago, a 12-year-old girl put a message in a bottle in a wall: “I am placing a bottle in here because I have read of such things in mystery stories… Whoever finds this please try and hunt me up,” her message said. While she had passed away by the time her message was found, the finder was able to be in touch with her children. Read more here.

    Screen shot from the video accompanying the story.
  • "Write to us about your good fortunes"

    Two college students tossed a message in a bottle into the waves off the coast of New Jersey. It traveled two years and more than 3,000 miles to France. The message was mostly faded, but one line, "Write to us about your good fortunes," was clear. The finder and senders connected over social media. Read (and watch) more here.

    Image from the video at the linked site.
  • Message in a bottle ... on a glacier

    In 1959, a geologist left a message in a bottle four feet from the edge of a glacier, asking finders to measure the distance to the glacier's edge. 54 years later, it was found. The gap had grown to 300 feet--a testament to glacial retreat. Read more here.

    Walker's message from this CBC report of the story
  • Chinese message in a bottle washes up in Wales

    An 11-year-old, walking on a beach in Anglesey, Wales, found a message in a bottle--in Chinese. The message begins, "Gulangyu islet is the most surprising, most memorable, and the place of both my happiest and saddest memories. At this unromantic and unremarkable islet, my romance that never started, ended." Read the complete message here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts, message travels to Ireland

    It's the farthest any of Ken Baker's 222 messages in bottles have ever gone. Most end up in other parts of Cape Code, though he says one traveled as far inland as Minnesota, and one traveled (against prevailing currents) as far south as Long Island, New York. Read more here.

    Photo from the Baker family, published with the linked story.
  • A surprise visitor

    Two five-year-old twins in Dovercourt, Essex, UK, put messages in bottles and set them afloat. One traveled 2,400 to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Rather than merely write back, the Spanish woman who found it paid them a surprise visit. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • A message in a bottle found on a five-year-old's birthday

    Five-year-old Ryder had a very unusual birthday surprise: he discovered a message in a bottle on a California beach. The message was sent 25 years ago by Chris, aged 10 at the time. Read more here and here (for more about the sender).

    Photo by Heather Baird, Ryder's mother.
  • A message celebrating decades of love

    In 2000, John Rodriguez wrote, "I met the love of my life in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 1966," and stuck the message in a bottle and threw it into the sea off Pawley's Island. Thirteen years later, it was found in the Bahamas, 600 miles away. Read more here.

    Photo of John and Jesse Rodriguez from the linked story.
  • Tributes in a bottle

    Gina Liberto Barnes lost her mother and son within days of each other, and in tribute, she released bottles containing their photos and messages about them into the sea at Fort Bragg, California. Both bottles came back ashore and were found by beach walkers, who contacted her and returned the bottles to the sea. Read more here.

    Photo by Cari Erwin, whose husband found one of the bottles.
  • Message from Sylvie

    A message written by a child name Sylvie traveled from Whitstable, in Kent, across the inlet of the North Sea between Kent and Essex, coming ashore at Clacton-on-Sea, where it was discovered by a family walking along the beach. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Christmas messages-in-a-bottle from 2010

    Richard Balkham and his wife were picking up trash along St. Johns River in Florida when they found a champagne bottle filled with children's Christmas and birthday wishes from 2010. Read more here.

    Screen capture from the video at the linked page.
  • Sad memories in a bottle

    A message in a bottle found sitting on a dune in Florida tells of a teen mother who never got to hold her baby. "My parents took him away and I never saw him again. They left me with a very empty heart and empty arms." Read more here.

    Photo by Richard Graulich
  • Sixteen years from Washington State to Manila

    In 1999, a group of friends put a bottle filled with notes of adolescent wisdom into the sea. Sixteen years later, a letter sent from Manila let them know that their messages had traveled 6,600 miles to the Philippines. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Lake Superior message in a bottle

    Cole Barsody put a message in a bottle in Lake Superior. Three months and 181 miles later, it was found by fossil and agate prospector Erik Johnson, who sent a reply to Barsody, along with some of his findings. Read more here.

    Photo, showing a piece of copper sent to Barsody, is from the linked story.
  • A reply from two pirates

    November-December 2015 has been a time of pirate-themed messages in bottles. Here, two years after a UK boy put a message to pirates in a bottle and threw it into the Tyne river, he received a reply from two supposed pirates in Norway. Read more here.

    Photo by Suzanne Fairless-Aitken
  • A message to Pirate Roger

    Chris Kiely and his two-year-old daughter wrote a message to "Pirate Roger" and put it, along with other treasures, in a bottle that they set afloat in the sea. The woman who found it made a Facebook search for Pirate Roger, and Jolly Roger, radio host for Lionheart Radio and Radio Northumberland, replied. Seek a pirate and ye shall find! Read more here.

    Photo of Jolly Roger from the linked story.
  • message from a widower

    A German widower wrote a three-page love letter to his deceased wife, "the great love of my life," who "died way too early," and put it in a bottle and dropped it in Pacific ocean while on a cruise. It was found on the beach dunes by a couple from Point Lonsdale, Victoria. "I miss her so much that my heart is broken forever," he wrote. Read more here.

    Photo by Nigel Hallett
  • From a North Carolina river to a North Carolina backyard

    Perhaps it was a flood or a hurricane that brought 12-year-old Paul Mitchell's message in a bottle from White Oak River, where he released it, to a backyard in the town of Richlands, where it was found almost 40 years later. Read more here.

    Photo by Elizabeth Horn
  • Seven years from Portugal to Antigua

    An American vacationer from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, found José Sílvio Vasconcelo's message in a bottle on Antigua, seven years and seven months after the message was set afloat from Porto Santo, Madeira. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked news story.
  • Kenyan refugees send messages in bottles to Pope Francis

    Boys in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya put messages calling for peace in bottles they decorated with paint and fabrics, which were then sent to Pope Francis, who will soon be visiting Kenya. The Pope received one of the messages in a private audience on November 14, 2015. Read more here.

    Photo by Angela Wells.
  • Message prays for safe passage to Florida

    A message in a Havana rum bottle includes prayers for the sender's family to get to the United States safely. "I am writing you through means of this letter with love and a lot of faith because you are the only one in the world that can help me with what I'm about to ask." Read more here.

    Photo from video accompanying the linked story.
  • Riding the Gulf Stream to the Azores

    To teach her class about currents, New Orleans teacher Melissa Hardesty had them put messages in bottles. Half were put into the Gulf of Mexico, to travel the Gulf Loop, and others she had dropped of Hatteras Island, North Carolina, to hitch a ride on the Gulf Stream. One bottle made it as far as the Azores, 3,000 miles away. Read more here.

    Photo by Andrew Canulette
  • "Are you a pirate or someone else?"

    Two Welsh schoolgirls put messages in a bottle while they were on a school trip. The bottle traveled 100 miles, where an editor of BBC Radio 2 found it. The children and their teachers were invited on air to talk about the experience. Read more here.

    Image from the linked story.
  • Love note to Hannah found in a bottle

    A bottle containing a love note to a woman named Hannah was discovered in Plymouth, UK. "Dear Hannah," the note begins, "I promise to make time for you when you need me but allow you time and space when I can ...I promise to take your dreams seriously and pursue our dreams together. I promise to be the best person I can be." Read more here.
    An update: Alas, the profession of love didn't lead to happily ever after (read more here).

    Images from the linked story.
  • A message found after its sender's unexpected death.

    Ten-year-old Delaney and her best friend Abigail put a chatty message in a bottle into the sea when they were vacationing on Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was found a few months later on the same beach, by two girls the same age. Sadly, Delaney had died of an undiagnosed heart condition in September, but the finding of her message in a bottle brought comfort to her family and friends. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Message to a grandfather

    "Feels like yesterday I was sitting at your beside sharing stories and sharing what is going on for me in my life," wrote a grandchild to a grandfather, now deceased. The letter was put in a glass jar and set afloat, to be found by a fisherman--a great great grandfather, himself--at Gladstone Marina in Queensland, Australia. Read more here.

    Photo by Campbell Gellie
  • Sheba retrieves a message in a bottle

    Maxim, Sophie, and Polina, from Bulgaria, put letters and drawings in a bottle and threw it into the Black Sea. In fourteen months, it traveled across the Mediterranean and washed up in Weymouth, on the southern coast of England, where Sheba, a Labrador retriever, fetched it from the waves. Read more here.

    Photo of Sheba from the linked story.
  • Message in a bottle in Phuket, Thailand

    German holidaymakers in Phuket, Thailand, left a message in a bottle that was found months later by a visitor from New Zealand. The message was left "as a sign of our luck and love and as a memory of this holiday." Read the full story here

    Photo from the linked story.
  • "My sweet Olivia, I hope this finds you well"

    While cleaning up trash along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, Jeanne Laxton found a message in a bottle from a father to a daughter:

    "My sweet Olivia, I hope this finds you well. I love you always. Always in my heart always in my mind. Love daddy."

    Original story here.
    Follow-up: The sad story behind the message (here)--a daughter's suicide.
    Photo from the first linked story.
  • A blessing found in a Cape Cod message in a bottle

    A friend of Pen Pal's author, vacationing on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, found this bottle. Inside, the message read,

    Hi universe,
    Please give me and
    who ever opens this
    Peace, Happiness, and Love.
    Thank you! !

    To see a picture of the message, click here.
  • From Nantucket to Cornwall

    Twelve-year-old Grant Beebe had thrown other message bottles into the ocean--one reached Martha's Vineyard island next door, and another traveled south to Long Island Sound. But this message crossed the Atlantic and was discovered by a fisherman in Cornwall named Tom. Read more here, or, for the Cornish perspective, here. Tom Hawkins's video of the opening of the bottle is here.

    Image from the Cornish article.
  • A message in a bottle on Seal Island, Nova Scotia

    Victoria Messenger, Kaydence Williams, and Chloe Perry, vacationing on Seal Island, Nova Scotia, found a message in a bottle dropped in the sea by a fishing tour guide operator off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. But it's not the only cool thing Victoria's found on Seal Island--maybe the most cool thing is the chair made of whale bones. Read more here.

    Photo by Greg Bennett
  • Searching for snails, a boy finds a message in a bottle

    Twelve-year-old Austin Webb found a message in a bottle that was one of 22 released by a first-grade class in 1998. Released from Virginia Beach, the bottle was retrieved on Yorktown Beach. Read more here.

    Photo by Mark Gormus of the Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • New oldest message: 108 years at sea

    In April 2015, a retired German postal worker found a bottle on a North Sea beach that English scientists put into the ocean in 1906 to learn about deep-sea currents. Read more here.

    Photo is from the article linked above.
  • From the middle of the pacific on Christmas Eve

    A German sailor's Christmas Eve message in a bottle traveled from the middle of the Pacific to Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, where it was found nine years after he sent it. Read more here.

    Photo by Monica Decker, who found the bottle.
  • From the Caribbean to the Scilly Isles

    The manager of a hotel in the Scilly Isles--who shares a first name with the author of Pen Pal--found a message from vacationers to the Bahamas, who'd thrown a message in a bottle into the sea. She invited them to come stay in her hotel. Read more here.

    Photo credit: John Hall
  • I like to jump on the trampoline

    At nine, Herman Andreas Brunbäck Larsen shared a little about himself in a message that he put in a bottle and threw in the sea in Fredrikstad, Norway. Eight years later, it was retrieved, and three years after that, the finder and the sender found one another. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article.
  • 3,000 miles from Nantucket to Ireland

    Every year for ten years, a family that vacationed in Nantucket threw a message in a bottle into the the ocean. Their 2013 bottle, with a message from their then-eleven-year-old daughter, was picked up off the coast Claddaghduff, Galway, in July 2015. Read more here.

    Photo: Rory Golden
  • Message found in a castle

    This bottle, found at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire, UK, contained a tattered message, apparently written by a child from the nearby town of Chaddesden. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • Goose barnacles hitched a ride on this bottle

    Ernie Lemay, on a drinking-and-fishing trip in Florida with his friends, started writing down his thoughts and observations and decided to put them in a bottle and give it to the sea. By the time the bottle arrived in Cork, Ireland, it had picked up a healthy crop of goose barnacles. Read more here.

    Photo by Caitlin Ruth, finder of the bottle
  • A message from a four-mast sailing ship

    A bottle tossed from the four-mast Russian sailing ship Sedov off the coast of South Africa was retrieved 26 months later from the shore of Cape Douglas, Australia. It included a map and the coordinates it had been put in the water, along with a note in English and Russian, and was set afloat to learn more about currents. Audio story here.

    Photo from ABC News Adelaide
  • A coded message in a bottle

    In the Russian military port city of Baltiysk, construction workers found a message in a bottle, written in the Latin alphabet, but in an unrecognizable language. Sergey Aleshnikov, a computer security expert, said local cryptographers would try to decrypt it. It might be something military from the Soviet era--but then again, it might be a crypto-riddle, written by children. Read more here.

    Photo of the note from this Russian news source.
  • "This is your fate"

    Inside a Coke bottle that washed up on a Melbourne beach was this inspirational message:

    Dear finder... This is your fate, it's your mission to change life as you know it. Do something amazing, something you are too scared to do. Why not? Life's short. Once you have decided, leave this note for someone else to find. Read more here or here.

    Photo by Adrian Trotman, finder of the bottle.
  • Notes to a man swept away by the sea

    The family and friends of Jamie Quattrocchi, who fell into the ocean at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, put sunflower seeds and memories of him in bottles and threw them in the ocean at the spot where the sea claimed him. Less than a week later, two young children found one of the bottles, some 18 kilometers away. Their mother contacted Jamie's family, who asked them to plant a seed, write about their experiences, and seal the bottle once more and entrust it to the waves. Read more here.

    Photo by Caroline Quattrocchi
  • A message in a bottle in New Zealand

    When she was ten, Natalie Price had her father put a message in a bottle into Cook Strait (between North and South Islands ) as part of a school project. Nineteen years later, it was picked up still intact up the coast of North Island, at Cape Turnagain. Read more here.

    Photo by Andrew Bonallack
  • A long journey from south to north

    Two sisters set a bottle afloat from a beach in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Seven months later, they got a postcard from Hamburg, Germany. Read more here.

    Photo by Conrad Bornman; from this article.
  • Sturdy gin bottle protects a message on Lake Superior for 11 years

    Eleven years ago, when her great-grandson Kevin was visiting from Texas, Kathy Bennett helped him put a message in a gin bottle, seal it with a cork, and toss it into Lake Superior. During those 11 years, it traveled from Duluth, Minnesota to Misery Bay on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Read more here.

    Photo by Bob King
  • Chinese students' bottle gets a helping hand

    Like Em's bottle in Pen Pal, the bottle these Chinese students put messages in had help reaching the other side of the world: parents of the students' English teacher took it back with them to England by plane, and then set it afloat on the Thames, where it was found. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article
  • The posthumous traveler

    Canoeists in Victoria Harbour in Vancouver, Canada, found a bottle containing human ashes and a photo, on the back of which is a message: "If you find this, please throw it back in the ocean. My last wish was to see the world." Read more here.

    Photo by Russell Henry, from the site linked.
  • Message in a film canister

    Twelve-year-old Leah and Angela put drawings and messages in a film canister and set it afloat down a creek in their neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan. Twenty-one years later, it was discovered 35 miles down the Grand River by a mushroom forager. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article by Ann Pierret
  • From Tasmania to Turkey and back

    Nine-year-old Joshua Manning, of Geeveston, Tasmania, put a message in an empty bottle of vanilla extract and sent it on its way from Surveyors Bay in February 2015. In May he received back a note, postmarked Istanbul, containing the bottle and a map of the presumed journey of the bottle. Read more here.

    Photo of the map by Jo Spargo for ABC Hobart
  • From Tallahassee to Tenerife--in 17 years

    Fourth-grade students in Tallahassee, Florida, inspired by the story The Voyager's Stone, put messages in four iced-tea bottles and set them afloat from California, the Gulf of Mexico, Jacksonville (Florida), and Maine. Seventeen years later, their teacher got a reply from Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Read more here.

    Image from video in the linked story.
  • "To Someone Beautiful and Far Away"

    In 1955, Ake, a lonely Swedish sailor, tossed a message in a bottle into the ocean. "Write me, wherever you are," he said. His message was picked up by Paolina, a Sicilian girl, who had her local priest translate it. She wrote back, "I am not beautiful, but it seems so miraculous that this little bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer" The next year, the two were married. Read more here.

    Photo from this website.
  • "The crew of the ill-fated ship Horatio ... is no more."

    In January 1861, a bottle washed ashore in South Shields, England. It told how the ship Horatio had left Archangel, Russia, in January 1860, but had been caught in a ten-day gale. With eight feet of water in the hold and the hatches collapsed, Captain Jackson put this note in a bottle in the sea, concluding by listing the names of all aboard. More on this story here; complete text of the message here.

    Note: The story is likely a hoax: more information here.

    Photo from the linked story.
  • 1001 messages of hope, sorrow, broken hearts, and love

    German artist Joachim Römer has been collecting messages in bottles from the Rhine River since 1997. Now, a museum in Bingen, Germany, is displaying 1001 of the bottles and their messages. Read more here.

    Photo from the news story linked.
  • Message praying for peace washes up in Kikaijima, Japan

    The message was set afloat by an Iranian and retrieved by Azuma Ryōsuke, a resident of Kikaijima, an island between Kyushu and Okinawa. The sender and the finder have been in touch via Internet telephone. Article in Japanese here.

    Photo from the linked article
  • From Eden to the Capricorn Coast

    A woman's in-memoriam message in a bottle traveled from Eden, in New South Wales, up Australia's eastern coast to Capricorn Beach, in Queensland, where it was retrieved by Jason Ivey and his niece Tiah. Read more here.

    Photo by Chris Ison Rokcmessage
  • Bottle post often goes astray. . .

    This message had an intended recipient in the southern UK, but it ended up in Norway. Fortunately, its rescuer sent it on its way via more mundane, but reliable, methods. Read more here.

    Image is from the linked news story.
  • From Iceland to Norway

    In the wreckage of his boat, which was destroyed by a storm, Geir Ola Korsnes (from Tofterøy in West Norway) found a plastic bottle with a message in it that had been put in the water on April 1, 1999, by 11-year-old Björgvin Matthías, from Skagaströnd in North Iceland. Read more here.

    Photo by Geir Ola Korsnes, posted on Facebook.
  • A 45-year-old message in a bottle, addressed to finder's grandfather

    The message was tossed into Lake Murray in South Carolina--and it connected Nolan Rogers's grandfather and his mother's close friend. Read more here.

    Photo from the linked article.
  • A message in the mangroves

    Darlene put a tribute to her mother in a bottle and set it floating along in a creek in John U. Lloyd State Park, Florida, hoping it would make it to the sea. Instead, it lingered among the mangroves for eight months, and was found by two students. Read more here.

    Photo from the Sun Sentinal story linked above.
  • A 900-mile journey from South Carolina to Bermuda

    During their daily walk on Somerset Long Bay Beach in Bermuda, LuVince Cann and his dog Prince came across a bottle with two notes inside--one, a tribute to the writer's father, "my best friend and the best dad in the universe." Read more here.

    Photo by Akil Simmons
  • "We hope you live in a beautiful country and have a great life"

    The note of well-wishers Emile and Taylor traveled around coastal Australia from Geelong to Portsea Beach. Now Liz Hubbert, who retrieved it, is trying to get in touch with them. Read more here.

    Image of the letter that Liz Hubbert posted on Facebook.
  • We are in this together

    An anonymous message of solidarity and opposition to war was found floating in Lake Grapevine in Texas. Read more here.

    Photo by Juan Guajardo for the Star-Telegram
  • Far from water, a Nebraska message in a bottle

    Some messages travel through time instead of space: while taking up the planks on their old farmhouse, Shad Dewy and his daughter Nicole found a note in a bottle giving a history of the house, from its building in 1917, through a rebuilding, a fire, and another rebuilding. Read more here.

    Photo by Lorri Sughroue for the McCook Gazette
  • From Greenland to Northern Ireland

    Young Noah White retrieved a message in a bottle that had been put afloat in Greenland by Students on Ice, a program of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Read more here. There's another Students on Ice story below--with another bottle that made it to Ireland.

    Photo by Lee Narraway: Student Bilaal Rajan participates in the bottle drift ocean current research project (source)
  • The day of judgment

    Mudlarker Nicola White finds many interesting artifacts along the banks of the Thames, including items in bottles. One bottle contained verses from the Quran on the day of judgment. Read more about other religious items found along the Thames here.

    Photo by Nicola White, from the blog entry linked above.
  • message seeking a valentine

    Rather than turning to online dating or the classifieds, Gyles sought a sweetheart through a message in a bottle, which washed up in Cornwall. Read more here.

    Photo by Liam Faisey
  • Seven-year-old Matthew Friend's message travels to Denmark

    Matthew Friend's bottle contained a message and a toy car, and traveled from Kent, England, to Skagen, Denmark. Kindly Mr. Larsson, who found it, sent him back the car, along with a letter and a map showing where the bottle had washed up. Read more here.

    Image: The beach where Matthew's letter washed up.
  • Scottish fisherman gets an answer to his message, 42 years later

    A message that he wrote on a page from a fishing almanac and stuck in a lemonade bottle traveled from the North Sea to New York City, where a German tourist picked it up. Read more here.

    Photo from the UK Daily Mail's version of the story, available here.
  • Cuban message in a bottle

    On a December morning, a message in a medicine bottle (just like Em used) was discovered among the rocks at low tide on a beach in Florida. The message was in Spanish, and expressed the wish of a woman in Cuba to make a new life to the United States. Read more here.

    Image: The letter (photo by Chris Bonanno)
  • Sculptures in bottles

    The German artist Hans Panschar sends tiny sculptures out into the world, afloat in bottles. Of the ten he's released so far, three have been found--by people in France, the Netherlands, and the Isle of Man. Watch a brief video on Hans Panschar and his bottles here.
  • A Swedish treasure map reaches Panama

    In 1992, three Swedish children created a treasure map, put it in a bottle, and set it afloat. Twenty-two years later, they got a reply... from Panama. Read more here.

    Photo from the story linked above.
  • Brothers find a poem in a bottle

    Two young brothers walking on Aldwick Beach in West Sussex, England, picked up a bottle that contained a poem by the French Surrealist poet Andre Breton ... and a telephone number, which turned out to be the number of La Maison de la Poesie, a poetry retreat in Brittany, France. Read more here.

    Photo from the story linked above.
  • A marriage proposal in a bottle

    The ink on a message in an old Pepsi bottle was blurred, but this part could be read: “My dearest, I always ... Will you marry me and be my love ... Forever and always in my thoughts and dreams. Always love, …” What story lies behind a marriage proposal cast into the water? (Read more here.)

    Photo from the article linked above.
  • Safina's birthday invitation reaches ... Kaya!

    With the help of her mother, young Safina bottled up a birthday invitation and put it into the sea at Maui, Hawaii. Four years later it was retrieved by David Wilson from the rough waters off Shell Beach, California, and given to ten-year-old Kaya--who shares a name with Pen Pal's recipient of a message in a bottle. Read (and watch) more here.

    Image from another news report of the same story
  • 100-year-old love letter in a bottle

    "Dear Birdie, I am writing a note to you and putting it in a bottle and then I'm going to throw it overboard to see if it ever reaches you," wrote Billy, before shipping off from Melbourne to fight in Gallipoli in World War I. Rick Cove, who found the message inside a book in a market stall in 1999, is has been searching for the two lovers ever since. Read more here.

    Image from the story linked above
  • What other things do people put in bottles?

    Chad Pregracke of Louisville, Kentucky, has a collection of some 70 messages in bottles, rescued from the waters and shores of the Mississippi. Some have contained money; others have held sheet music, Bible verses, notes to lost loved ones, even suicide notes. One bottle contained a picture of former president Bill Clinton. Read more here, and read more about Chad and his Living Lands & Waters project here.

    Photo: Erica Peterson/WFPL
  • Icelandic message finds its sender

    When Kristján Lár Gunnarsson was a boy gathering eggs with his family, he set a message afloat in Breiðafjörður bay. Nineteen years later, when he was collecting eiderdown in the same area, he found his message again. Read the full story here.

    Photo: Kristján Lár Gunnarsson/Facebook
  • A freshwater message in a bottle, found after 44 years

    A schoolgirl vacationing in Alberta, Canada, dropped a message in a bottle into the Bow River . . . and 40 years later she received a reply from a geocacher who found her bottle in the Lac des Arcs area of Alberta. Read more here.

    Photo from the news story linked above.
  • Three young sailors' message in a bottle travels 17,000 kilometers

    Theo from Holland, Kimmo from Finland, and Irek from Russia, sailors aboard the famous sailing ship STS Sedov, put a bottle with their email addresses into the ocean at South America's Cape Horn--and it travelled 17,000 kilometers to Macquarie Island, between Tasmania and Antarctica. Read more here.

    Image from Australian Broadcasting Corporation, courtesy of the Australian Parks and Wildlife Service.
  • History in bottle

    A dry-land message in a bottle found in an Indiana barn contained a declaration from 1916, by farmer who built the barn, explaining why he built it. Read more here.

    Photo from news story linked above.
  • Seven-year-old Ruby gets a pen pal with a message in a bottle

    After a classmate got a reply to a message in a bottle, Ruby (from Dublin, Ireland) decided to try. When the boat her family was vacationing on broke down, she seized the opportunity and threw her bottle into the waters--which was found by ten-year-old Rhianne, who was searching for seashells on the shores of Blackpool, England. Read the rest of the story here.

    Photo from news story linked above.
  • A message from a lonely lighthouse keeper

    A message that a lonely lighthouse keeper dropped into the ocean 50 years ago got a telephone response recently, when his message was found by a man going through his deceased parents' papers. Read more here.

    Photo by Summer Dorr for the Juneau Empire.
  • A multilingual message in a bottle

    On the very day when Carla Crossman, a marine researcher, had been talking about messages in bottles, she found one bobbing in the water off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, that contained a note written in English, Mandarin, and Spanish--along with a USB stick promoting a French film.

    Read more here.

    Photo from news story linked above.
  • A message in Bulgarian arrives in southern Australia

    After more than two years at sea, a Bulgarian message in a bottle washed up in southern Australia. If they can get the message translated, students at Kingston Community School hope to write to the sender. Read more here.

    Photo from article at link.
  • From icebergs to Ireland

    A message in a bottle, describing icebergs and Arctic birds, that a 20-year-old student threw into the waters between Nunavut and Greenland washed up in Ireland a year later. Read more here.

    Photo from Students on Ice.
  • A Spanish message in a bottle, commemorating a football victory

    On the beaches of Tarragona, a bottle washed up with a message inside: "Viva el Betis. Jaén 0 – Betis 2. A primera. 22-06-01. 18.00 horas" Long live Betis, which beat Jaén 2-0 on June 22, 2001. The message went undiscovered for almost 13 years. Read more (in Spanish) here.

    Photo by Lluís Milián.
  • A message-in-a-bottle hunter

    In 2007, Clint Buffington found his first message in a bottle. Between then and 2012, he found seven more and started up a blog devoted to chronicling his experiences finding messages in bottles and trying to contact the senders.

    Read more here.

    Photo from the page linked above.
  • A message to the dead

    A message in a bottle, dated 2008, was found in the mangroves by Queensland's Cannonvale Beach. It read,

    My darling sweet Cherry, it's been five years since you were taken from me and our princess Phomeila, who is coming six years old. I love you as much today Cherry as I loved you from the first night we met.

    Read more here.

    Photo: Craig Watson, who found the bottle and is searching for the sender of the message.
  • From Mo'orea, French Polynesia, to Queensland, Australia

    Six-year-old Camille's message-in-a-bottle traveled three years and 7,000 miles to Queensland, Australia. Read more here.

    Picture of the message, from the story linked above.
  • A World War I message in a bottle

    HIs comrades assumed that Private Edgar Robert Colbeck Adams had died in the battle of Gallipoli, but a message in a bottle that washed up on an Egyptian beach six months after the battle suggests otherwise. "Am prisoner about two miles from where we landed, between the dried lake and the other--ERC Adams 8.AIF," the note read. Read more here.

    Photo: Edgar Adams, Australian War Memorial (source)
  • The oldest message in a bottle to date

    In 1913, a twenty-year-old baker's son threw a message in a bottle into the Baltic while on a nature hike. In April 2014, that message was placed in his granddaughter's hands. Read more here.

    Photo: International Maritime Museum Hamburg
  • A thank-you message in a bottle, in devanagari script

    Here is the message found by Twitter user Paul Telling (@derelict_london), found washed up at Limekiln Dock on 6 March 2014. Someone is saying thank you ♥
  • Real-life friendship that began with a message in a bottle

    In 1977, a message that a ten-year-old English boy put in the North Sea was picked up by a ten-year-old German girl. Anja wrote back to Richard, and the two families have been friends ever since. Read more here.

    Photo from news story linked above.
  • Eight years and 2,500 miles later. . .

    A message written by two girls in Quebec finds its way into the hands of an nine-year-old in Ireland. Story here.

    Photo: NBC news
  • A message discovered after Superstorm Sandy

    When she was ten years old, Sidonie Fery put a message in a bottle into the waters off the coast of Long Island. Twelve years later, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, that message was found and returned to her mother . . . who took great comfort in it, as Sidonie had died in an accident at age eighteen. For more details, see article here.

    Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP.
  • A hamster called Sparkle and a fish called Speckle

    When she was ten years old, Zoe Averianov threw a message in a bottle over the side of a ferry from Hull, England, to Belgium. She wrote,

    Dear finder, My name is Zoe Lemon. Please would you write to me, I would like it a lot. I am 10 years old and I like ballet, playing the flute and the piano. I have a hamster called Sparkle and fish called Speckle.

    Read more from the BBC here.

    Image source: UK Daily Mail Online
  • Messages in bottles as a form of remembrance

    A California artist saved the messages a friend left on his answering machine. After the friend died, as a way of remembering her and memorializing her, he started transcribing her words onto the pages of blank books, and then tearing out those individual pages and putting them in tiny bottles, which he left around for people to find--shared portions of a life now past. Read more here.

    Photo by Duccio