Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sending Out An S.O.S.

Just *try* to keep The Police's "Message in a Bottle" out of your head after this story...

Bottle released by Mass. scientist in 1956 found
BOSTON — It was April 1956, and the No. 1 song was Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel." At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, scientist Dean Bumpus was busy releasing glass bottles in a large stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

Nearly 58 years later, a biologist studying grey seals off Nova Scotia found one of the bottles in a pile of debris on a beach, 300 miles from where it was released.
I don't know what's weirder, that after 58 years at sea the bottle only traveled 300 miles, or that after 58 years it was still intact. No word on whether the bottle was redeemed for the nickel deposit... Honestly, the weirdest part is that the bottles were released by a scientist studying ocean currents in the mid-1950s and found by a scientist studying seals in the 20-teens.

It's funny how science changes over time. 58 years ago, putting a literal "message in a bottle" was a legitimate way of studying ocean currents. Today we have satellite imaging and GPS and a whole host of other technological advances for that. It's humbling to think where we started and how fast we got where we are.

No word on Gilligan, the Skipper, or the Howells, though...

That is all.

6 comments:

Brad_in_MA said...

Jay,
Check out a book called Moby Duck. It is about how ocean currents were studied after a shipping container of rubber bath toys fell into the Pacific and broke open. !some of the rubber ducks & frogs were found near MAINE !!!!

Weerd should probably read it.

- Brad

wolfwalker said...

Jay,

"I don't know what's weirder, that after 58 years at sea the bottle only traveled 300 miles, or that after 58 years it was still intact."

It probably _traveled_ a lot more than 300 miles. It just happened to end its travels only 300 miles from where it was released.

"58 years ago, putting a literal "message in a bottle" was a legitimate way of studying ocean currents. Today we have satellite imaging and GPS and a whole host of other technological advances for that."

As Brad says, floating bottles - floating anything, really - still are a valid way of studying ocean currents. Satellite imaging can't see everything, and GPS only works if you have a GPS transceiver collecting data and reporting it back to a base. A sealed bottle with a GPS transceiver inside makes a fine way of studying ocean currents.

Bob said...

I collect message-in-a-bottle stories; there have been some good ones through the years. I put them on my own blog when I read of a new one found.

I've also thrown several bottles of my own; one of them traveled several hundred miles, from the NC coast near Wilmington to just s. of Myrtle Beach, SC. With unbreakable plastic soda or water bottles it is easy to do, and very likely that your message will end up found.

Dave H said...

It may have taken only a few weeks for that bottle to reach Nova Scotia. It could have just been rolling around on the beach since then.

I read a story a few years ago where a young girl cast a message in a bottle into the river near her home. Someone found the bottle something like 12 years later and tracked down the girl to respond. The bottle was found about a mile and a half downriver.

LCB said...

I'm a big fan of Surviorman. It's sad that he can tell his viewers to always check the ocean coast line for things to survive with. No matter where you are, there will be things washed up on shore that can be used in a survival situation...nets, plastic bottles, fishing line, etc.

Ted said...

The current off the coast of Nova Scotia ( the Gulf Stream ) is part of the general clockwise rotation of the Atlantic. There are some backwards eddys in the region but in that the bottle was found SE of the realse point it is much more likely that the bottle has made a number of circumnavigation rather than be subjected to residing on a beach for decades