This week at Macquarie Island: 1 November 2019

A message in a bottle washes up at Macca

Message in a bottle

One morning in July with a fresh south westerly wind blowing over Macquarie Island, Stella, Andrea, Kat and Lionel set off to walk along the North West feather bed to Halfmoon Bay.

While walking over piles of rotting kelp and black sand Stella, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (TasPWS) Ranger looked down to find a green glass wine bottle laying on some kelp with a cork still intact. Marine debris is unfortunately a common occurrence on the west coast of Macca so at first this was nothing out of the ordinary.

However as Stella bent down to pick up the bottle to her surprise she realised that there was a rolled up piece of paper inside the glass bottle!

This was a very exciting moment for the group, as at that point, they had no physical contact with the outside world (other than the world wide web) for five months.

Extracting the message from the bottle was tricky without smashing the glass, but Dr Kate saved the day providing some forceps from the surgery which were perfect for the job. At first the message inside appeared blank with no writing on either side. Holding the paper up to the light and even using the x-ray light box didn’t uncover any messages. Disappointment was brewing.

A small dedicated team including Station Leader Kat and Rangers Andrea and Stella were determined for answers and stayed up to the early hours trying to decipher the mystery.

Finally after much trial and tribulation, Kat and Stella found by shading over the paper very lightly with a grey lead pencil an imprint of writing began to appear. Although extremely excited (and exhausted) by this point, care had to be taken to not press too hard to cover up the letters. Using this technique parts of the message became readable:

Hi my name is ……….

I am from Poland (Europe)
I am during a trip to Bouvet Island

Today is April 6th 2015

If you find this message

Send email

My email address is

……………

Thanks

Unfortunately the only parts that were undecipherable were the name of the writer and the email address. Key parts to the puzzle! The email address appeared to be something along the lines of ‘JUDBAS@.......PL’, however the last part of the address wasn’t readable apart from the .PL at the end.

Lead internet researcher Andrea discovered that a Polar Cruise ship had travelled to Bouvet Island, a Norwegian volcanic island in the Southern Ocean South West of Cape Town, during April 2015.

To date, emails have been sent to the cruise company and we have reached out to ask our neighbours at the Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station to see if they can shed light on our message in a bottle.

We haven’t solved the mystery yet but the story continues. Watch this space.

Stella, Ranger

A green bottle lays on a black pebble beach
A special sort of marine debris
(Photo: Stella Thomas)
A green bottle lays on a pebbel beach with a typed note next to it
"Re-enacted" message in a bottle written by a Polish visitor to Bouvet…
(Photo: Stella Thomas)
A woman wearing a cap holds a green bottle on a beach
Stella finding the bottle...slow realisation...there was a message inside!
(Photo: Stella Thomas)
Two women are concentrating on a note
Kat and Stella up to the early hours trying to decipher the…
(Photo: Andrea Turbett)
A person rubs a pencil over a piece of paper
The original paper...shadings revealing the faded message
(Photo: Andrea Turbett)