World's oldest message in a bottle found 132 years later in Australia

(KGTV) - The world's oldest message in a bottle was discovered half-buried at a West Australian beach nearly 132 years since it was written.

The Western Australian Museum confirmed Tuesday that the message is dated June 12, 1886 — dating back more than 48,000 days. The old gin bottle was jettisoned from the Germain sailing barque "Paula," according to 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," Tonya Illman, the woman who discovered the bottle told the museum. "The note was damp, rolled tightly and wrapped with string. We took it home and dried it out, and when we opened it we saw it was a printed form, in German, with very faint German handwriting on it."

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Illman's husband then spent time researching the message before discover just how far back it dated.

According to the museum, the bottles were part of an experiment by what was known as "Deutsche Seewarte," or German Naval Observatory. For 69 years, thousands of bottle were tossed overboard German ships studying ocean currents.

The notes, which contained dates and coordinates, would instruct whoever finds the bottle to write back when and where they located the note to help researchers build data on currents. In total, the museum says 663 bottles as part of the experiment have been discovered.

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The Illmans have loaned the bottle to the museum to put on display. 

The previous record for oldest message in a bottle was 108 years, four months, and 18 days.

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