What’s Inside Messages in a Bottle? Exhibit Showcases Dozens

By KATHERINE HAFNER, The Virginian-Pilot

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — If you hear of a message in a bottle, maybe the time period calls to thoughts faraway pictures of somebody stranded on a distant island or penning love letters centuries in the past.

However they flip up extra typically — and nearer — than you may suppose.

One environmental group has come throughout dozens of them whereas cleansing up America’s rivers: all the things from treasure maps to loneliness-fueled pleas to the universe, stuffed inside glass bottles and even Gatorade containers.

Curious what’s inside? Now’s your probability to search out out.

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Nauticus in downtown Norfolk lately launched the “Message in a Bottle” exhibition. It runs by way of April 24.

The touring exhibit is in partnership with Residing Lands & Waters, an Illinois-based nonprofit that has carried out about 1,400 main river cleanups in 21 states since launching within the late Nineteen Nineties.

Founder Chad Pregracke stated he began the group after rising up close to the Mississippi River. He was within the water on a regular basis, diving for mussel shells, amongst different actions, and continuously got here throughout rubbish.

“I needed to do one thing about it as a result of it bothered me,” he stated. “I believed folks would care and wish to see it cleaned up. … and I used to be proper.”

Pregracke now spends stretches of time on a barge used to wash the Mississippi and different rivers, together with towboats, workboats and cranes.

Volunteers come throughout all types of issues — bowling balls, kitchen home equipment. However “the highest of the pyramid,” the apex, he stated, is a message in a bottle.

“When you discover a message in a bottle you’re form of a king or queen,” he stated. “They’re enjoyable to search out.”

When one is discovered, the crew takes it again to the barge and opens it to disclose the message.

“There’s that intrigue,” he stated.

In some circumstances, they weren’t essentially meant to be discovered, with the creator writing to a better energy. Others embody contact info and addresses.

Pregracke has often been capable of join with the individuals who wrote them. He’s additionally tried investigating the occasional treasure map, to no avail.

Some bottles journey a whole bunch of miles from their origin, traversing creeks to finish up in a significant river.

Pregracke has a pair favorites from through the years.

One is a glass jar that incorporates a presidential portrait of President Invoice Clinton.

“I believed that was form of cool as a result of it’s simply so random,” he stated.

One other was a bit of guitar sheet music present in a 40-ounce Budweiser bottle the place the Wabash River meets the Ohio. It was titled “Lavender For You.” After a nationwide newspaper did a narrative on it a number of years in the past, a person known as to say he’d written it for a girlfriend who broke his coronary heart. The person additionally precisely described the situation the place it was discovered, which hadn’t been talked about within the story.

Stephen Kirkland, govt director of Nauticus, stated the museum reached out to Residing Lands & Waters a few yr in the past when the employees heard of the touring exhibit.

“We’re a museum fairly actually constructed on the banks of a river,” he stated. “It’s essential we share these messages of environmental conservation and stewardship.”

Although the bottles journey, Nauticus constructed the shows — a extra inventive enterprise than the maritime museum normally handles. The shows describe the situation, timing and contents of every message in a bottle.

“Ahoy My identify is Charlie, I’m 14 in eighth grade” at a faculty in New Jersey, one message reads, including that the author’s class had lately learn “The Lightning Thief” and was releasing the bottle within the Delaware River. “I higly advocate the e-book. Please write again. Anchors Away Semper Fi.”

One soda bottle present in Washington, D.C., incorporates strands of human hair. A bunch of three vegetable oil bottles has pages from the Bible dipped in oil.

“Why? Who is aware of,” Kirkland stated. “There’s a human aspect to all this that’s simply cool.”

Messages in a bottle have all of it, he stated: romance, lore, historical past. Nauticus can also be specializing in the conservation facet, together with programming about plastics air pollution.

“Our message is, don’t do that,” Kirkland stated with fun. “What we’re taking a look at principally is trash. However somebody created artwork out of trash and it’s simply beautiful.”

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