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It looked like “a lovely old bottle,” but a woman from found something much more intriguing on the beach in Western Australia: the world’s oldest known message in a bottle, CNN reported.
Tonya Illman discovered the bottle, half-buried in the sand, with a note dated June 12, 1886. The bottle was thrown into the Indian Ocean from the German boat Paula, which was traveling from Cardiff, Wales to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), CNN reported.
According to the Western Australia Museum, the bottle was one of thousands thrown into the oceans as part of a 69-year-long experiment on global currents, CNN reported.
The previous world record for the oldest message in a bottle was 108 years, 4 months, 18 days from the time it was thrown into the water until the time it was discovered, the Western Australia Museum said.
The authenticity of the bottle was confirmed by experts in Germany and Australia, CNN reported.
Illman said she found the bottle near her son’s car.
"My friend Grace Ricciardo and I were walking across the dunes when I saw something sticking out of the sand so I went to take a closer look," Illman told the museum. “It just looked like a lovely old bottle so I picked it up thinking it might look good in my bookcase. My son's girlfriend was the one who discovered the note when she went to tip the sand out.”
Illman said the note was “damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string.”
Experts said the bottle was a 19th century Dutch gin bottle, CNN reported.
“Incredibly, an archival search in Germany found Paula's original Meteorological Journal and there was an entry for 12 June 1886 made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard,”Ross Anderson, the museum's assistant curator Maritime Archeology, told CNN. “The date and the coordinates correspond exactly with those on the bottle message.”
The museum did not reveal what the exact message was.