Message In A Bottle Written By Massachusetts 5th Grader Found in France 26 Years Later (Photos)

A message in a bottle written by a Massachusetts student more than two decades ago was recently found in France.

Message In The Bottle Finally Read

A French man stumbled upon a handwritten message in a bottle that washed up on the beach on the western shores of the country — 26 years after the bottle was tossed into the sea by a Massachusetts fifth grader.

“Dear Beachcomber, Thank you for being kind enough to pick up my bottle,” Lyons wrote. “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 question and return to us.”

“It’s crazy to think it took that long for someone to find it,” Carol Archambeault, an English teacher in the Sandwich, Massachusetts, public school district said.

“The bottle is so old, I can see why people are so interested in it,” she added.

The letter, written in 1997 by Ben Lyons while a student at Forestdale School in Sandwich, was an assignment for a science class, the Sandwich Enterprise reports.

Lyons and his classmates dropped bottles containing messages into the Nantucket Sound in October 1997. According to the newspaper, other bottles from the class have washed up overseas in Greenland and France over the years. 

The message penned by Lyons was found on Aug. 11 on a beach in Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, France, by 71-year-old Hubert Eriau, according to the Enterprise. Eriau, a fisherman, was cleaning up trash on the shore.

He told the newspaper Ouest France that the bottle was sealed tightly with wax and labeled, “Please open message inside!!”

The 71-year-old fisherman was generous enough to return the letter answering the questions young Lyons left as part of the science project.

Eriau wrote in French that the bottle had shells stuck and he mentioned that an article appeared on the newspaper “Quest France” on August 31.

The Journey Continued

And while the letter was sent back to the U.S., its journey was not quite over.

The letter was returned to the Forestdale School in Sandwich, Massachusetts, which is now a pre-kindergarten school, where staffers were confused since they no longer offered fifth grade. Staff then send the letter to the Oak Ridge School where staffers struggled to find a fifth grader named Ben until they realized what was going on, according to assistant principal Brandy Clifford.

Clifford said she knows Lyons’ parents personally and was able to return the letter to him. While Lyons has declined interview requests following the discovery, Clifford said he was excited to learn it was eventually returned.

“It’s amazing that the bottle stayed intact. It traveled so far,” Clifford said. “These days, we would put a tracker in anything to find out the ocean currents. This was a way back in 1997. We didn’t have the technology to do something like that. So I don’t think anybody ever thought 26 years later, something like this will be found intact.”

The contents of the bottle and the fisherman’s letter will be displayed inside the elementary school.

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