30-Yr-Old Bottle Washes Up On A Florida Beach, Message Inside Triggers Phone Call to Scotland


While a couple was surveying the damage left behind by Hurricane Irma, they stumbled across a message in a bottle from 30 years ago.

Ruth and Lee Huenniger found the bottle lying next to a chain-link fence near the ocean on Sept. 29 and pulled out a note, the Miami Herald reported.

“We’re learning all about pirates,” the note read. “We would like to see how far this message goes. Please write and tell us where you found this bottle.”

According to the signature, the bottle came from a class at Chapelpark School, Forfar, Angus, Scotland.

The Huennigers wrote back to tell them where the bottle was found and about the Sept. 10 hurricane.

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“Your message was found in Key Largo, Florida, USA, on Sept. 29, 2017,” the couple responded. “Hope this was a fun experience for your class.”

The Huennigers requested that the recipients of their letter write back and let them know when the bottle was sent.

Little did they know that Chapelpark Primary School had closed in 2008 and that the bottle was sent sometime in the 1980s.

Fiona Cargill, the teacher of the class who sent the bottle, is now retired, but the postman found a way to get it to the former school teacher.

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“We forgot to put a date on the letter, but would you believe it, that bottle was sent on its journey more than 30 years ago,” Cargill responded to the couple in a letter on Oct. 23. “The pupils who took part in this will now be in their mid-thirties!”

Cargill led the activity with her students while they were studying pirates, according to WSNV.

“We decided that perhaps pirates would send messages in bottles,” she told reporters over the phone.

The class had covered bottles with “sticky plastic to keep them from getting wet” and then had a fisherman take them to the North Sea.

Ruth Huenniger was surprised at how long the bottle had been in the sea.

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“It looked too new to be 30 years old,” she said. “It looked like a Coke bottle, and it had no barnacles on it.”

“It’s just amazing how things happen and how it could get all the way here from all the way over there.”

According to Cargill, there are at least three more bottles in the sea waiting to be discovered by the next passerby.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith