Message in a bottle. From 98 years ago.

The Atlantic reports on a record-breaking experiment that is reaching a conclusion nearly a century after it started… when a Scottish fisherman found a message in a bottle tossed into the North Atlantic in 1914:

It is 98 years old, and was cast into the ocean by Captain C. Hunter Brown, a scientist at the Glasgow School of Navigation, who was studying the currents in the North Sea.

The bottle was one of 1,890 bottles released on June 10, 1914, and the 315th to be entered into Captain Brown’s log, which is still kept and updated by Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen.

I’d say this qualifies as a nearly century-old citizen science experiment, though that’s not a term scientists would have been familiar with then.

“Drift bottles gave oceanographers at the start of the last century important information that allowed them to create pictures of the patterns of water circulation in the seas around Scotland,” explained Bill Turrell, Head of Marine Ecosystems with Marine Scotland Science explained in the official press release on the event. “These images were used to underpin further research — such as determining the drift of herring larvae from spawning grounds, which helped scientists understand the life cycle of this key species.”

Images of Captain Brown’s card – and tales of his ongoing oceanography experiments – are at the link.

[via Mr. Goodstein.]