Valuable 'Message-In-A-Bottle' Found! It Reveals 'Unthinkable' Future Glacial Melt [Video]
Researchers in one of Canada's harshest and most remote locations stumbled upon a 54-year-old mysterious message in a bottle, beside a glacier, indicating a sense of environmental foresight unusual for the times, Canada's Chronicle Herald reported.
Led by Warwick F. Vincent, a Laval University biologist, researchers from Laval University in Quebec City were exploring an area near the edge of a glacier on Ward Hunt Island, Canada's closest point to the North Pole, when they discovered the message in a bottle dated July 10, 1959.
The message was written by geologists Paul Walker and Albert Crary-two well-known figures of the polar geological research world, according to the Halifax Chronicle Herald.
"I recognized the two names instantly," biologist Vincent told the Los Angeles Times.
"Walker is a famous name in our parts up there because the highest point on Ward Hunt Island is called Walker Hill. ... we've been camping next to Walker Hill now for over 10 years."
At the time the note was left, Walker was a 25-year-old geologist from Ohio, by calculations the researchers assume. Crary was a colleague of his who lived in Boston.
So what exactly did the message, penciled on lined white paper-discovered in a 250-milliliter plastic sample bottle-request of its acquirer? The note simply asked its finder to measure the distance between a nearby rock formation and the edge of a nearby ice shelf, according to the reports.
"Anyone venturing this way is requested to re-measure the distance and send the information" to Walker's Ohio address, the note read. "Thank you very much."
Unfortunately, the author of the note would never receive that information. Shortly after writing the note, Walker suffered a massive stroke and had to be airlifted out of the Arctic by a bush pilot. The stroke left him paralyzed and, after spending several weeks at his parents' home in Pasadena, Calif., the famed geologist died.
Crary went on to lead a mission to the South Pole in 1961. The U.S. Arctic Program's Science and Engineering Center at McMurdo Bay, Antarctica, bears his name.
Walker and Crary had hidden the bottled note underneath a pile of rocks about 1.5 meters from the glacier, according to the Chronicle Herald.
Vincent and his fellow scientists, who were collecting microbes in the valley where the note was found, did as the researchers before them had requested, and measured the distance from the rocks to the ice shelf. Using GPS equipment, they found that since the message in a bottle was written, the ice shelf had retreated some 200 feet.
Vincent told the Halifax Chronicle Herald it was remarkable that Walker thought to leave the note where he did. "Because in the '50s, it was unthinkable that this would melt," he said.
"We were reading some of his last words," Vincent told the Los Angeles Times. "He didn't know at that stage whether the glacier was advancing or retreating. But he wanted a reference point that would allow future researchers in the area to provide him with important data."