8 Striking Stories of Letters Sent to Sea

Posted: August 13, 2013  |  By: Melissa Bryer [Mother Nature Network]

There’s something undeniably romantic about tossing a message into the ocean and seeing to whom fate — abetted by the currents and wind — might deliver the marine missive.

Messages have been slipped into bottles and shipped on mysterious voyages at least since 310 BC, when Greek philosopher Theophrastus employed the tactic to test his theory that the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean Sea. And in fact, so-called “drift bottles” are still employed as a means of charting ocean currents.

But aside from researchers studying oceanic circulation, there are many other motives that compel people to cork up their words and send them on seafaring adventures. From rescue pleas and sad farewells to random notes, people just want to send off into the world, messages in bottles are a curious antidote to the high-speed modes of communication we’ve come accustomed to. The following are some of the more remarkable tales describing the journeys of messages delivered by the sea.

1. Castaways revealed

In 1794, a Japanese seaman named Chunosuke Matsuyama and his 43 companions were caught in a storm and shipwrecked on a South Pacific island. Without supplies, all of the crew eventually expired; but not before Matsuyama wrote a message telling of their misfortune, carved in coconut wood and slipped in a bottle. No one knew what had become of the group until the bottle was discovered 150 years later near the Japanese village of Hiraturemura.

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