For centuries, researchers used bottles to study the oceans currents. In the 1800s, scientists would throw a bottle into the sea and track where it ended up and how it got there. People past and present would also write messages in bottles and send them off into the sea, hoping to pass a message along or perhaps just to connect with a stranger, whomever should find the bottle.
Clint Buffington is one of the world’s most successful finders of messages in bottles. His blog, Message in a Bottle Hunter, details his finds; he has discovered 83 messages in bottles since 2007 and has attempted to track down the senders.
I found my first message in a bottle in 2007. I must have walked past several thousand bottles that day—I had almost zoned out when something caught my eye: a blue bottle lying right on the sand, like it had just washed up. There was something inside! I stumbled over to the bottle and held it up, examining the contents: bright orange paper rolled up tightly and tied with a piece of string that poked out the top of the bottle which had a rubber cork. Wrapped around the message inside were two US dollars.
That bottle sparked something in me that led to finding more messages, and led to this blog. The idea of finding even a single message in a bottle had always enchanted me–but to find dozens of them?! How could I NOT write about it?!
Over time, I found that most people who send messages in bottles are wonderful, kind, friendly folks, who enjoy making friends with the person on the other end of their bottle.”
Part of Clint’s success comes from an understanding of ocean currents, explained in the video below. But the more he searches for “treasure,” the more trash he finds in return. Clint’s quests have opened his eyes to the “sheer volume of plastic pollution on our beaches and in our seas.” He leaves his readers with this message:
I hope you’ll join me as I continue seeking out messages in bottles and meeting the folks who send them, while shedding light on the plastic pollution crisis along the way.”