Message in bottle travels from UK to Australia

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Friday, January 20, 2006

A message in a bottle thrown into the sea by a four-year-old girl in England has been found 9,000 miles away in Western Australia.

Alesha Johnson threw the bottle into the water at Morecambe Bay, Lancashire last July, enclosing her Heysham address, and a picture of herself.

The note read: "If you get this message, please write back."

This week, she received a letter from a 10-year-old from Perth, who said he had found the bottle in a local Boatyard.

Doreen Johnson, the manager of the nursery Alesha attends in Heysham, said: "We were all very excited when the letter from Australia arrived addressed to Alesha.

"We never dreamed the bottle would go that far, it's amazing."

The Australian boy, who said only that his name was Bob, wrote in his letter that he had asked his father to look up Heysham on the Internet.

The child did not enclose an address as he said he was moving house, but would write back when he had his new address: "We are in the middle of moving house and it’s Christmas here but when we are settled I’ll write to you again".

Nobody will know exactly how it got there but the most likely route would have been into the Atlantic, sweeping down the west coast of Africa and into the Southern Hemisphere. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope the bottle must have then crossed the Indian Ocean. Oceanographers suspect the bottle could not have travelled the whole way on its own in only six months, and it must have been caught up by a ship and transported part of the way.

"It was summertime when we threw it in the sea. All the children in class were given bottles to take home in July but Alesha’s is the only one that got a reply", she said.

"I don’t know what the other parents did with theirs. We went straight down to Morecambe Bay. Alesha was only 3 at the time. She could barely throw the cola bottle beyond her feet. I just assumed it would be washed straight back and forgot all about it."

"Then recently when I went to pick her up from nursery I was told that she had had a reply from this little boy and it had made it all the way to Australia. I couldn’t believe it. I was walking on air for about four days and was really proud. It’s made me very happy." Ms. Matthews said that Bob had made a copy of Alesha’s original note and returned it to the Time For Nursery in Heysham. He also wrote to Alesha and the family is now looking forward to learning more about him.

"I have never heard of a message in a bottle travelling so far so quickly."

Last December a message in a bottle sent from New York was washed up at Newquay, Cornwall. It had been sent 18 months earlier.