A Vineyard Guy Found Another One Of Those WHOI Messages In A Bottle


MVT – Justin LaVigne of Edgartown has discovered that the joys of beachcombing are many and varied, even in winter. His most recent find will help scientists to understand the vagaries of ocean currents.

“I really had to work to open it,” he said. “I wanted to keep the bottle intact.” He decided to use a corkscrew and chopsticks rather than a hammer. His strategy was successful.

The message inside the bottle, dated Sept. 19, 1959, requested that the finder return the card inside to the “Coast and Geodetic Survey,” known now as part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC), affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Woods Hole.

So I was halfway through writing about this when I was struck by deja vu. Sure enough after a search I found that we had already written about these same bottles. These things are everywhere, here is what we had to say about it the last time…

BOSTON — It was April 1956, and the No. 1 song was Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” At the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, scientist Dean Bumpus was busy releasing glass bottles in a large stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.
Nearly 58 years later, a biologist studying grey seals off Nova Scotia found one of the bottles in a pile of debris on a beach, 300 miles from where it was released.

“It was almost like finding treasure in a way,” Warren Joyce said Friday.

The drift bottle was among thousands dumped in the Atlantic Ocean between 1956 and 1972 as part of Bumpus’ study of surface and bottom currents. About 10 percent of the 300,000 bottles have been found over the years.

This is a cute story right up until you read the part about this scientist throwing 300,000 bottles into the ocean. Dude, that’s not science, that’s fucking LITTERING. Imagine what else scientists were doing in 1956 if they were dumping massive amounts of garbage in the ocean to study tides?

I’ve always wondered how the ocean could be so huge yet still contain so much sea glass. It just never seemed to add up to me. Well here is the answer folks. Most likely that sea glass collection you’ve got going isn’t from random bottles, they’re from an ill advised 50’s era science experiment. You might as well be collecting vials of DDT or making balloon animals with chlorofluorocarbons.

This is quite the reminder of how much the world has changed. If you were caught dumping 300,000 glass bottles into the ocean today you would be put in jail for the rest of your life. They’d probably give you the electric chair if you did it within 200 yards of a Piping Plover School Zone.

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Comments 2

  1. Wow…And to think I thought the odd bottle or two was tossed ….romantically to traverse the worlds oceans…..

  2. Wow, in order to spread my Grandfather's ashes at sea this past winter I found out I had to send in a notification to the EPA and find a way to get 3 nautical miles offshore 30 days after they were notified – I'd say times have changed
    They used to just drop whole bodies into the sea off ships back in the day too… lol

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