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French fisherman responds to message in a bottle written in 1997 by Massachusetts boy

When a fisherman chanced upon a 25-year-old message in a bottle from Massachusetts on the beach, he decided to reply to the sender.

French fisherman responds to message in a bottle written in 1997 by Massachusetts boy
Cover Image Source: YouTube | NBC10 Boston

In ancient times, sending out a message in a bottle implied people from sinking ships were seeking help to be rescued or sending last goodbyes to loved ones. Sometimes these messages also contained poems to the beloved, confessions of mistakes or even untold secrets. Though finding a message in a bottle from the past is rare these days, there are still a few instances where people find such memoirs. NBC10 Boston reported one such interesting incident where a fisherman in France found a message in a bottle written in 1997 by a 5th grader from Massachusetts.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Joshua Woroniecki
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Joshua Woroniecki

In 1997, the Oak Ridge middle school student Ben Lyons from Sandwich, Massachusetts wrote a letter, sealed it in a bottle and tossed it into the ocean off the shores of Cape Cod. The staff of this school indicated that this activity was done as part of a science project about ocean currents. The bottle washed ashore 3300 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in France after nearly two decades. In August this year, this letter was found by Hubert Eriau, a 71-year-old fisherman on the shores of a beach in Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée. He decided to respond to Ben's letter and sent the envelope to Ben's school.



Talking about receiving this letter Brandy Clifford, Assistant Principal of Oak Ridge School explained, "We got an inter-office envelope that was addressed to this student, Ben, and the Secretaries were looking for him everywhere," and added, "They could not find this fifth grader." Only when one of the school staff opened the envelope did everyone realize that Ben mentioned in the letter was an old student of the school and this letter was a response to his science project. “They felt like they found a treasure when they saw a letter from this gentleman from France, and then this letter that was dated in 1997,” said Clifford. Time and tide worked so much in Ben's favor that after all these years his message not only survived but got a response too. 

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Ben's letter read, "Dear Beachcomber, Thank you for being kind enough to pick up my bottle. We are studying ocean currents in science class. We dropped these bottles in Nantucket Sound in October 1997. If you could, please fill out the questions and return them to us." His questions were "Where did you find the bottle? What is the condition of the bottle? Was there anything around the bottle besides water, rocks? How did you find it?” About the fisherman's response letter which he wrote in French, Clifford said that he mentioned the beach's location in France and that "he was walking around the beach, cleaning the beach, and he found the bottle and it was sealed tight with wax and he had a really hard time opening it."

The Oak Ridge School staff intend to write back to Hubert Eriau, thanking him for his considerate gesture. While NBC10 Boston tried to get in touch with Ben Lyons, his family responded in his place saying: "It’s great the kids can learn about the oceans and currents from this. Showing what a small world it actually is. We’ve had fun reading the different articles and the interest this has generated." If not for the 71-year-old Hubert's courteous actions, this letter would have been long-forgotten by Ben and the school staff too. 


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