Messages in Bottles

Messages in bottles? In this day and age, we hear you ask? Yes! Take a glass bottle, insert a message, cork the bottle, seal it with wax and toss it into the ocean. In this day and age? Crazy idea? Littering in the ocean and possibly harmful to ocean life? Yes. All true. But to Earth Kids, this is also a lesson in Geography, History, Science and Communications.

This is a project of adventure, education and hope, according to Earth Kids film-maker, Simon Tatt. He knows that tossing anything into the ocean is sacrilege, a disgrace and a littering offense. But Earth Kids are not using plastic bottles and the positive effects of this project far outweigh the negatives.

And these are not your ordinary bottles and these are not your run-of-the-mill messages. These are tiny glass bottles stoppered with corks.

Earth Kids pondered what they should write to the potential discoverers of their messages. Maybe these bottles will be found in a few months, in a year or in 50 years’ time? Strange to think that some of us may not be around when some of these messages are read. And we wonder what type of life people will be living in the next 50 years?

No plastic, no advertising, no money-making scam. The bottles carry messages of hope for Planet Earth. Each Earth Kid wrote his/her own message to the person who finds their particular bottle. Messages ranging from Save the Whales to Clean up the Oceans to Let’s Fight Climate Change Together!

Then they had to find someone to drop off the bottles in the huge ocean for them. Craig Dunlop, the Rear Commodore of Hout Bay Yacht Club, very kindly showed the Earth Kids around the yachts that were gearing up to leave for the Caribbean in early 2020. He managed to find a lovely crew who agreed to take the bottles on board their 32-foot sailing boat, Althea.

Margie and Larry Linder left in early February 2020 from Hout Bay for the Caribbean. On the way to a stopover on St Helena Island, they launched the messages into the Atlantic Ocean.

“A huge thank you to Craig, Margie and Larry!”chimed the kids. Everyone remains in contact as the Linders enjoy their sailing journey and maybe they too will find a bottle en route back to sunny Cape Town!

Did you know that some bottles through history have floated on oceans for hundreds of years? One lucky bottle finder actually ended up marrying the bottle sender! And can you believe that so-called “drift bottles” are still used to understand ocean currents?

In fact, dropping messages in bottles into the oceans goes back as far as 310 B.C when Greek philosopher, Theophrastus did just that to test his theory that the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Mediterranean Sea!

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.

Bye Bye Bottles!

The Linders popped the messages in bottles overboard, one by one at a specific GPS location, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

Our bottles are drifting along in ocean currents, being pulled this way and that way. Some may make it to South America, some may return to South Africa. We may never know …

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