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If you are ever stranded on an island, here is one thing you may not want to do - send a distress message inside a bottle. That's because chances are it will not be delivered until long after you are gone. At least that's what happened to the one Richard Platz sent to his wife, on May 17th, 1913.
Fortunately, the postcard that was placed inside a beer bottle and sent by Platz while on a nature hike somewhere in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, appeared to have been sent just for fun. The bottle floated in the waters for over a century, before being discovered in the Baltic Sea off the German city of Kiel, by local fishermen. Skipper Konrad Fischer who picked the bottle from the sea in March, says that he was about to toss it back, when a colleague noticed something inside.
Turns out, he was right - Neatly tucked inside was a postcard, two German stamps and a polite request asking the finder to send it to Platz's home address in Berlin. After seeing the date, the fishermen realized they may have found something precious and decided to take it to the experts at the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg.
After verifying that the postcard had indeed been sent by Richard Platz when he was about 20-years old, the museum's genealogical researchers began a search for any living relatives. Sure enough, they were able to locate Platz's 62-year-old granddaughter, Angela Erdmann, who still resides in Berlin. Angela who had never met her maternal grandfather because he had died six years before she was born, was delighted to receive the unexpected mail. However, she urges people not to send messages inside bottles, because they pollute our oceans and are harmful to marine animals.
The postcard will remain on display at the International Maritime Museum until the end of May, after which experts will try decipher what Richard had written to his wife - That's because though the address and the request to send the postcard are legible, the message itself is blurry. Once they are done, the bottle and its contents will probably find a permanent home at the museum and if curator Holger von Neuhoff is right, also make its way into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest message in a bottle, ever discovered. The current record is held by a 92-year-old message that was found in 2012.
Resources: thelocal.de, theguardian.com,huffingtonpost.com