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BREWSTER, Mass. — A message in a bottle is something out of cheesy romance novels or far-fetched Hollywood films.
But Lia Burns, 10, actually found a glass bottle, buried in a sand dune, with a message inside it in February. And while it didn’t contain love letters, it was more than 40 years old and had traveled more than 400 miles.
Visiting the family cottage on Ellis Landing Beach during school vacation, Lia and her grandfather — both amateur meteorologists — ventured out during a cold day to see the damage caused to the dunes by winter storms, she said.
“I was walking along the beach, checking the dunes and found a bottle in the sand.”
Following the instructions visible from the outside, Burns broke the bottle, which promised a $1 reward for sending back information regarding its discovery.
So Burns, of Plainville, Mass., filled it out. And on March 8, she and her family got something they never thought they would: a response.
“This doesn’t usually happen in real life! It’s like the movies,” Lia said.
It turns out the bottle was dispatched about 16 miles south of Maine in 1969 by a Canadian research group.
The Fisheries and Oceans Canada office in New Brunswick sent Burns a letter outlining the purpose of the bottle’s journey.
The Coca-Cola-shaped bottle was launched Jan. 23, 1969. It was circulating the Gulf of Maine for “many years” and could have been buried for “over four decades,” according to the letter.
The bottle’s instructions would have been faded by the sun and unreadable had it been floating the entire time, the letter stated.
But what about that reward?
“One dollar ($1.00) will be sent to the finder on return of this card,” said the orange card in the bottle that Burns now has as a keepsake. “I’m still waiting for my dollar!” she said.
“Drifter work is still going on by the staff at SABS [St. Andrews Biological Station] and others to study tidal circulation throughout the Scotian Shelf,” the letter states. But now much of that work is done using satellites, according to the letter.
Distributed by MCT Information Services