Century old message in a bottle is confirmed as world's oldest

Oldest message bottle
Message: The bottle was pulled from the sea by a fisherman.

A message in a bottle has set a world record for the longest time adrift at sea after nearly 100 years.

Andrew Leaper, skipper of the Shetland fishing boat Copious, made the unexpected discovery on April 12 when hauling in his nets.

The find has now been confirmed by Guinness World Records and surpasses the previous record by more than five years.

That was also for a Scottish drift bottle, recovered in 2006 - by the same Lerwick vessel.

Fisherman Andrew Leaper 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."

Mr Leaper has donated the bottle, along with the Guinness World Records Certificate, to the Fetlar Interpretative Centre in Shetland - the community-run museum on the island in the north-east of the isles where he is from

Drift bottle 646B was released on June 10, 1914, by Captain C H Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation, as part of a batch of 1890 scientific research bottles specially designed to sink downwards and float close to 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.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "The story of scientific drift bottles is a fascinating one and harks back to an area when we were only beginning to understand the complexities of the seas.

“It's amazing that nearly 98 years on bottles are still being returned to the Marine Laboratory - and in such fantastic condition. With many bottles still unreturned there is always the chance in the coming years that a Scottish drift bottle will once again break the record."

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” - with a reward of six old pence available.

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.

A spokesperson for Guinness World Records added: "We are pleased to hear that the same vessel helped to break the Guinness World Records for 'Oldest message in a bottle' twice.

“This is a fascinating record, both historically and scientifically. We hope that future expeditions will retrieve more of these treasured messages from the sea."