It was in April 1956, when Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel was enjoying its popularity, as it hit the
No. 1 over the airwaves, when one scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, named Dean Bumpus was busy releasing thousands and thousands of glass bottles in a large stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. Hoping that a unique message in a bottle can resolve a scientific phenomenon. After 58 long years, a biologist who had been conducting a study about grey seals at Nova Scotia found one of the bottles in a pile of debris on a beach which was just 300 miles from where it was released. This unusual experience according to Warren Joyce is like finding a treasure. The floating bottle was among those ofthe same kind which were in thousands that had thrown in the Atlantic Ocean between 1956 and 1972, as part of a Bumpus’ study of the ocean’s surface and bottom currents. Almost 30,000 of the 300,000 bottles have been found over the years.

Do you believe that a message in a bottle can dynamically resolve a scientific phenomenon?

Do you believe that a message in a bottle can dynamically resolve a scientific phenomenon?

Joyce found the bottle last January 20 on Sable Island, just about 185 miles southeast of Halifax. Upon discovering the bottle, he immediately notified the scientist at the Woods Hole and obediently gave them all the information such as the time and place that Bumpus used the message in a bottle and had asked for in a postcard inside the bottle as some sort of reciprocity. The reward for the bottle’s finder? Just what Bumpus had promised in 1956 it went something like this. To anyone who would return the bottle, a 50 cent piece will be given.  Warren Joyce said that he did not want the reward, but Bumpus is sending it to him anyway.

According to Joyce, almost 75% of the bottle’s surface had been sand blasted but he could still read the words telling its finder to break the bottle. What he did was to dutifully follow the instruction and pried off the rubber stopper and broke it. Inside, he found the note from Bumpus explaining that the bottle was among those that were released to study the ocean. During those days, there was no other way in which one can study ocean currents, said Steven Jayne, a senior scientist at Woods Hole. In 1956, ocean currents were too difficult to study because there were no satellites then just like today. The only thing that you could do was to determine where something had started and where it will end up. This particular approach was an effective scientific methodology at that time.  Using the postcard number, Woods Hole’s workers tracked the bottle found by Warren Joyce to a group that was released not far from April 1956. Meanwhile, David Sherman a Woods Hole archivist said three other bottles from that very same batch which were found within just a few months after being thrown into the ocean.

There were 2 bottles with a message in it which were found in Nova Scotia and one in Eastham, Cape Cod. However, there was no other way to tell for sure if the bottle that Joyce had found was washed up on Sable Island; though it was concluded that it was based on its sand worn condition and it might have been there for several years,according to Sherman. Therefore, Bumpus needed thousands of empty bottles for his good intention of throwing bottles into the sea. It was on September 1956, when he asked for his colleagues help to write a note. Any bottle of whiskey, rum, beer, wine or champagne will do. Bottles collected will be used to make drift bottles. In response, clean bottles that ranged from 8 oz to one quart were received.

Unfortunately, in 2002 when Bumpus died. There were at least 270,000 bottles that remained unaccounted for. As for Sherman, it was concluded that some of those bottles were probably damaged, while the others were kept somewhere as souvenirs if they could have been found. Hence, the rest were still believed to be floating in the sea. Nobody knows, one day one of us may find one in the near future, the mysterious message in a bottle.

Category: Interesting

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