Well-travelled message found

Last updated 15:07 23/09/2013

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A message in a bottle dropped off the north western end of South Georgia three years ago travelled more than 13,000km in the ocean before washing up on New Zealand's Stewart Island, the South Georgia Newsletter says.

The bottle was found at Masons Bay by Simon Taylor, who was beachcombing with family and friends.

''It was only when I saw the screw cap was intact and there was something inside that I went for a closer look,'' Mr Taylor said, according to the newsletter.

Inside the bottle was a two-page letter from fishery researcher Luke Kenny.

Mr Kenny had been working on a fishery research vessel, doing a fishery science cruise, when he launched the bottle in May 2010, the newsletter says.

The bottle was one of five he released  with messages from various locations around South Georgia, while he was travelling to the Falkland Islands.

The bottle found by Mr Taylor was the first bottle Mr Kenny had launched, the newsletter says.

To Mr Kenny's knowledge, none of the other bottles had been found, the report says.

Mr Taylor is quoted as saying he had no idea where South Georgia was.

However, he knew a bit more once he had read the message in the bottle because Mr Kenny had drawn a map and described the island and said he had been working on it as a scientist.

He wrote: ''I am 30 years old and from Ireland. However, for the last 8 years I have spent little time there. Instead I have kept moving, working in the Falkland Islands or in Ireland and travelling mostly around South America ... In December 2010 I finish my two year contract with BAS on South Georgia and I must return to the 'real' world, with lots of people, noise, pollution and the ever advancing tide of commercialisation. I am not looking forward to that ... Why am I writing this letter in a bottle? I suppose just curiosity; to see where it goes and what happens. I do not know if the bottle will even survive its first few days and not end up smashed on the harsh and unforgiving coastline ... it is a rather wonderful thought that the bottle might bob around an ocean for a length of time on a lonely journey to deliver a message when it is ready. I wish it well on its voyage, I would like to go with it.''

He drew an arrow on the map indicating the direction he expected the bottle to go; a trajectory that led him to believe the bottle may be washed up on a west African shore, the South Georgia Newsletter says.

Having read the message, Mr Taylor sent a letter to the Irish address Mr Kenny had given.

Mr Kenny is quoted as being delighted to hear his message in a bottle was found washed up and intact.

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The bottles were deployed for curiosity as much as anything, he said.

''To see where it might turn up should it withstand the stormy Southern Ocean - quite honestly I didn't even begin to speculate where that might be.

"It is somewhat of an idealistic notion, to pit the insignificance of a lonely bottle against all the odds of the mighty ocean and to see it triumph. The never knowing if it's still out there, still bobbing away avoiding the potentially fatal encounter with land, how close it has come to making a landfall only to be swept past the refuge.

"Perhaps it can teach us a lesson. Even the smallest act can triumph,'' he said.

Mr Kenny now regularly works on cruise ships visiting some of the most remote locations in the world, the report says.

- The Southland Times

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