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In the News: 21-year-old Message Found in a Bottle in Hawaii

 

Learn how this extraordinary story that has ties to our community!  Click here to read: A researcher in the Hawaiian atolls found a message in a bottle. Here’s what it said written by Dillon Ancheta and published October 29 in Hawaii News Now. (Story and photos are excerpted below.)

 

UPDATE:  On November 1, a KIRO TV reporter came out to interview Mary-Lee Johnson who retired three years ago.  Watch a video of the KIRO story that aired Friday, November 1 at 5 p.m.

 

Original article excerpted below:

A researcher in the Hawaiian atolls found a message in a bottle. Here’s what it said

 

Bottle with message

A rolled up message and photos were found inside the bottle. (Source: NOAA Fisheries)

 

By Dillon Ancheta | October 29, 2019 at 8:11 PM HST - Updated October 31 at 7:09 AM

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Do you like cats? Are you near a volcano?

 

It may not be verbatim, but essentially, those were among the questions typed up on a piece of paper found in a bottle that washed up on the shores of an atoll in the Pacific.

 

The discoverer would soon learn the story behind the bottle, and how it floated 3,000 miles in the ocean over the last 21 years.

 

A researcher with the NOAA Fisheries Monk Seal Research Program made the discovery a few months ago, and recently blogged about the fascinating find.

 

The researcher was on Bird Island, a very small islet in the Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

 

The researcher writes, “I’m looking at my data sheet as I walk. I glance around to check for any seals when I spot something ahead of me."

 

They continue, "At the high tide line is a bottle. Nothing is special about that, the atoll is littered with plastics and glass bottles. But this one is different, I can see that there’s something inside.”

 

Upon closer inspection, the researcher finds rolled up papers in the glass bottle sealed with a cork that’s withstood the test of time — and the elements.

 

When the research team brings it back to their campsite on the Southeast Island, they open the bottle and explore its contents.

 

Inside, a kindergarten class wrote a list of questions for the future finder of the bottle.

 

“Nick wants to know if we have any gold, Erinn wonders if we like cats, and Tyson asks if there’s a volcano near us,” the researcher said.

 

The letter was dated June 15, 1998.

 

Among the damp papers inside the bottle — which were in surprisingly good condition — was a photo of that kindergarten class. It was the class of Mrs. Mary-Lee Johnson from North Bend, Wash.

 

North Bend Elementary Kindergarten class photo from 1998.

This photo showed the kindergarten class behind the message in the bottle.

The class is that of Mrs. Mary-Lee Johnson in North Bend, Washington.

The letter attached was dated June 15, 1998. (Source: NOAA Fisheries)

 

The researcher has been in contact with Mrs. Johnson since the discovery, and she’s shared countless stories of her time with the students, who are now about 26 years old.

 

Johnson is retired from the school but still volunteers within her community.

 

The researcher shared that it was Johnson’s husband who dropped the bottle into the Pacific.

 

“He was sailing in the 1998 Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii when he tossed the bottle overboard somewhere past the Continental Shelf,” the story said.

 

Both were stunned about the discovery. The researcher said Johnson will be in Hawaii later this year. They are hoping they could meet up and share more stories and build a lasting friendship.

 

As for the students who wrote the letter, it may not be known where they are now or what they’re doing, but one can only hope they come across this tall tale like the researcher who found a bottle in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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NOTE:  For those who have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley for a while, perhaps you know or recognize some of the students who are now 26 years old.