Posted: August 13, 2013There’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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