Message in bottle sets record by turning up nearly 98 years later

A message in a bottle hauled from the depths by a fishing boat has set a new world record for the length of time spent at sea, beating the previous record by more than five years.

The bottle, released in 1914 as part of a scientific experiment, turned up nearly 98 years later in a net during a fishing mission east of Shetland.

Incredibly, it was discovered by the same Lerwick vessel that found the previous world record holder.

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The find has now been confirmed by Guinness World Records.

Fisherman Andrew Leaper spoke of his pride after spotting the bottle in his catch on April 12.

The 43-year-old skipper of the vessel Copious said: “It was an amazing coincidence that the same Shetland fishing boat that found the previous record-breaking bottle six years ago also found this one.

“It’s like winning the lottery twice. This is a very popular fishing ground, with half the North Sea fleet fishing here.

“As we hauled in the nets I spotted the bottle neck sticking out and I quickly grabbed it before it fell back in the sea.

“I am immensely proud to be the finder of the world record message in a bottle.

“It was very exciting to find the bottle and I couldn’t wait to open it.”

Drift bottle 646B, as it is known, was released on June 10, 1914 by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation, as part of a batch of 1,890 scientific research bottles designed to sink towards the seabed.

By tracking the location of returned bottles it was possible for the under-currents of the seas around Scotland to be mapped out for the first time.

The water-tight glass bottles contained a postcard asking the finder to record the date and location of the discovery and return it to the director of the Fishery Board for Scotland, for a reward of six old pence.

Of the batch released in 1914, 315 bottles have been found.

The original log of Captain Brown, now held by Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen, is updated each time a discovery is made.

The previous record was held by a bottle which spent more than 92 years at sea. It, too, was a bottom drift bottle and was recovered by fisherman Mark Anderson, of Shetland, in December 2006.

Mr Leaper said: “I can tell you that my friend Mark Anderson is very unhappy that I have topped his record. He never stopped talking about it.”