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Message in a bottle written by American 5th grade student found 26 years later in France

Emily Brown

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Message in a bottle written by American 5th grade student found 26 years later in France

Featured Image Credit: WCVB/ Oakridge School

In October 1997, a fifth grader from Massachusetts wrote a message in a bottle and tossed it into the sea. Almost 30 years later, it was found in France.

The idea of a finding a message in a bottle is one that seems more suited to cartoons or kids' films, where a character finds a note that ends up taking them on some wild adventure.

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That's not to say they don't work in real life, though, as French man Hubert Eriau, 71, found when he stumbled upon the old bottle while picking up trash along a beach.

Inside, he found a message written by then-student Benjamin Lyons, 26 years ago.

Lyons wrote the letter as part of a science unit on ocean currents led by teacher Frederic Hemmila at Forestdale School in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

Carol Archambeault, who now works at the school as an English teacher, told Fox News Digital: "It’s crazy to think it took that long for someone to find it. The bottle is so old, I can see why people are so interested in it."

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Benjamin Lyons had some questions for the person who found the bottle. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston
Benjamin Lyons had some questions for the person who found the bottle. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston

Archambeault explained that Hemmila encouraged his kids to write letters as a 'culminating activity' after studying ocean currents, saying: "They were trying to see where the letters would end up, where the currents would take them."

According to Archambeault, Hemmila's friend would take the bottles and cast them into the ocean from their boat.

The practice was suspended a few years after Lyons wrote his letter, as the staff moved to prevent more litter from ending up in the ocean.

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"Now, of course, we know that’s not so eco-friendly," Archambeault said. "But at that time, it was a very exciting activity. The kids would wait to see if they had any answers."

Knowing that anyone who found the message would likely be on a beach somewhere, Lyons addressed it: "Dear Beachcomber."

It took nearly 30 years for the bottle to be found. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston
It took nearly 30 years for the bottle to be found. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston

He provided his name, the date he wrote the letter and where he'd gone to school, as well as thanking the person who found the bottle for being 'kind enough' to pick it up and open it.

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Lyons explained what his class was studying, and said he'd dropped his bottle into Nantucket Sound with the hope that whoever found it could answer some questions, including where it was found and in what condition.

Archambeault told Fox that Hemmila and his students put a lot of effort into making sure their bottles would make it to different shores while their letters were still in tact, explaining: "I know that [they] sealed them with wax so they're found in pretty good condition."

After discovering the letter, Eriau sent it back to Forestdale School addressed to "Mr. Benjamin Lyons."

Confused, administrators opened the package and found a letter from Eriau, in which he'd answered all of Lyons' questions.

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Benjamin Lyons went to lengths to ensure his message was well-sealed. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston
Benjamin Lyons went to lengths to ensure his message was well-sealed. Credit: WCVB Channel 5 Boston

"I was at the beach and as I was walking along, picking up trash on the beach, it was like it was there for me to find the bottle. It had several barnacles collected on it," Eirau's letter read, in French.

Archambeault, who is familiar with Lyons' family, immediately knew who the letter was intended for, and was delighted to see it come full circle.

"I know that we had several [letters] in France, so obviously something in the currents must lead that way. And I'm pretty sure we had one returned from Greenland," she said.

"So, they've traveled really far and the people that find them are so gracious to reach out and write back."

Lyons has not commented on the discovery of his message, but I'm sure his fifth-grade self would be delighted to know how his class project turned out!

Topics: Community, Life, US News, Viral, World News, School, Education

Emily Brown
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