Trekking along the Cape Onion walking trail near Savage Cove, Jeanette Coates came upon a message in a bottle – one that had travelled all the way from British Columbia. It was an exciting find for Coates’ trip.
MAIN BROOK, NL - While visiting family in Main Brook, Airdrie, Alta. resident Jeanette Coates came across a fellow traveller from the west coast — a bottle that had travelled from British Columbia.
Her and her parents had been trekking the Cape Onion walking trail, pointing out and discussing all the trash that washed up along the shoreline. But by chance, one of these seemingly pieces of trash caught Coates’ eye.
“I said, ‘wait a second mom, I think there’s something in that’,” Coates said. “And sure enough, it was a message in a bottle.”
Before they had uncorked it, they speculated on where the bottle might have came from. They suspected it couldn’t have come from very far to make it to this shore — only Raleigh or maybe Griquet.
“When we opened it and saw it came from B.C., we were gobsmacked,” said Coates.
Upon unveiling the letter inside, they were shocked to see it travelled all the way from the Vancouver coastline, and it only took a year to do so.
The discovery was a product of the Drift Bottle Project.
The initiative began in 2000 as a way to study ocean currents, and according to their Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) report, only one in 25 are ever found.
Through labelling each bottle and learning the locations of its uncovering, the project hopes to discern the current and path it took to give the DFO a better understanding of ocean circulation.
By studying how the world’s oceans circulate, the DFO report states, scientists can better determine how marine life, pollution and entire ecosystems relate to the ocean.
Coates contacted the Drift Bottle Project through the letter enclosed within her bottle, but is still waiting on a response. She hopes to find out the exact passage the bottle took, that sent it from the ends of western Canada and into her hands on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland.
The number labelled on the bottle is 20.
“My grandfather, who I consider wiser than most, figures it could have only have came through the northwest passage,” Coates said. “To look at a map with that passage, and to think it had to go through Alaska, up through the Northwest Territories, and all these coastlines it had to pass just to make it here.”
While some water had seeped into the bottle, the letter contained inside was still eligible enough to read. Along with information on the project, it also contained a note by a student at an elementary school in Vancouver, asking what country the receiver was from and what language they spoke.
The finding was particularly serendipitous for Coates. Only two days earlier she was along a beach looking for sea glass when she had a thought that was soon to become a premonition.
“I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to find a message in a bottle,’” she said. “Then, lo and behold, two days later …”
Now travelling back to Alberta, Coates left the bottle and letter with her parents in Main Brook. They can now put both on display to show friends and family.
“It was exciting knowing that it travelled this far,” Coates said. “If anything, it’s made for a great story to tell.”