Recently a 101-year-old message in a bottle was found off the coast of Germany. The bottle was tossed into the Baltic Sea back in 1913 and was discovered this year by fishermen (pictured above) who then donated it to a local museum. Just about every news outlet is saying that it's the oldest message in a bottle ever found. Except that it's probably not.
I was going to wait until Friday to report on this, since it would be perfect for our weekly round-up of time capsule news. But I keep seeing this story pop up so frequently (along with the claim that it's the oldest) that I feel like I have to set the record straight.
The actual oldest message in a bottle was found just last year in British Columbia, Canada. The bottle even made it to number 2 on our list of the Top 10 Time Capsules of 2013. The Canadian message in a bottle (pictured below) dates back to 1906, and was found by a man named Steve Thurber when he was out walking along the beach — which means the bottle was 107 years old when it was discovered.
The curious wrinkle in the Canadian bottle story? Thurber doesn't want to open it. This makes independent verification difficult, and will probably lead to the German bottle being officially declared the oldest by the Guinness Book of World Records. Before Thurber's Canadian capsule was found, the oldest known message in a bottle was discovered near Scotland in 2012 and dated back to 1914, having spent nearly 98 years floating at sea.
But just know that there's an older bottle out there. A bottle that, for whatever reason, its finder doesn't want to open. Time capsule nerds sure are a weird bunch, aren't we?