From the words of a shipwrecked castaway to a sailor looking for love, these bottle-bound missives have tales of their own to tell.
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 B.C., 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, 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.