Message in a Bottle Washes up on Hawaiian Beach After 37 Years

A message in a bottle that had been in the ocean for more than three decades has finally washed up on a beach in Hawaii, roughly 4,000 miles from where it was released.

The note was written by Japanese high schoolers in 1984 and cast adrift on the coast east of Tokyo, as part of a 750-bottle experiment.

Abbie Graham, 9, stumbled across the partially buried treasure while walking with her family in Hawaiian Paradise Park. She spotted the mud-covered glass bottle, with a rusted cap, and convinced her parents, John and Angie Graham, that it might be important.

"I thought it was trash, and she thought it was treasure," John Graham told the Hawaiian Tribune-Herald. As the cap was rusted shut, they were forced to break the bottle to read the note inside, which had been written on a typewriter.

At the top of the once-white postcard was written "The ocean current investigation" in capital letters. Then came the information that the message had been written by the Chiba Prefectural Choshi High School Natural Science Club.

The note read: "This bottle was thrown into the sea off the coast of Choshi, Japan, in July 1984." It asked whoever found it to respond with their name, address, the date and place it was found, along with the longitude and latitude of discovery.

The instructions, also written in Japanese and Spanish, were incredibly well-preserved after their nautical adventure but Abbie noted that the paper smelled like "wet cat," according to the Hawaiian Tribune-Herald.

The 9-year-old's discovery is the first Choshi High School message found since 2002, when the 50th bottle washed up on Kikaijima Island in southwest Japan, according to Japanese daily The Mainichi.

After the 750 bottles were tossed into the sea, members of the club spent the next few years tracking their travels, with bottles washing up in China, the Philippines and the west coast of the U.S. But as sightings dried up, the club disbanded in 2007.

The high school's vice principal, Jun Hayashi, said: "We thought the last one was found in Kikaijima. We never imagined another would be found 37 years on," The Mainichi reported.

Present-day students at the school wrote a letter to Abbie last week, after the 1984 note, first discovered in June, finally reached them. The treasure finder and her sister, Aubrie, 10, included a drawing of themselves eating sushi.

Nozomi Hakkaku and Asuka Yamaguchi, both 16, wrote a letter in English back to Abbie, saying: "I want to cherish the connection the bottle brought us across borders and spacetime," according to The Mainichi.

Mayumi Kanda, now 54, was a club member in 1984 and said the discovery "brought back a lot of nostalgic memories of when I was a high school student." According to Vice, she added: I'm very thankful to the girl who picked up the bottle, to my old high school for organizing this project, and to everyone involved."

File photo of message in a bottle.
File photo of message in a bottle. A 9-year-old girl found a message in bottle that had been adrift for 37 years. ginosphotos/Getty Images