When did you start this project?
It had been an idea for a long time, but the first bottle was launched in July of 2013 in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, Italy. This bottle was found several months later.
What do you hope to accomplish?
There’s something romantic and life affirming about casting your good wishes adrift, not knowing who—if anyone—will ever read them. As it’s our job to spread curiosity, bottle messages seem like something we should encourage.
Is this littering?
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. There is a lot of litter in the ocean, and we certainly don’t want to contribute to it. But in the end, bottle messages are not litter. They’re not discarded; they’re sent with a purpose. The intent is for someone to find them and ultimately remove them from wherever they were dropped. Please read our environmental impact statement which discusses how we chose the materials in our kits.
Why don’t your bottles look like traditional bottles?
Because long neck bottles are prone to breaking. While the romantic notion of a wine bottle at sea with a message is pleasant, in reality our short, square bottles are more likely to survive.
I forgot to record my number and now my bottle is floating in the ocean!
While this isn’t ideal, it’s not the end of the world. We may have the number on file, and even if we don’t… we’ll have it once the message is found. We can then track it back to whomever purchased it, and we’ll try to contact them.
Do the numbers mean something?
Yes, they’re batch-accession numbers. This means that they give us the date of the batch and which bottle number from that batch. The letter corresponds to the month the bottles were made. If you see numbers on the map that don’t have letters, those are prototype bottles. Several dozen were launched before we started the project officially.
Can I throw my bottle from a cruise ship?
It’s certainly done, but it’s definitely prohibited on board, and we don’t recommend it. You could get a fine and it could even be dangerous.
What if my bottle is found after you’re dead?
We’ll do everything we can to keep the servers running until the end of time.
Has anyone ever found a bottle?
Yes, and we’re hopeful that more will be found. Our tracking map shows the locations of every bottle dropped and found.
What’s the strangest place anyone has left a bottle?
One person threw theirs into the fountain at Bellagio in Las Vegas. We’re not sure that was the most legal deployment, but it certainly made us chuckle. To date, that bottle has not be retrieved.
Why should we do this through you and not just on our own?
If you register your bottle with us, you’ve joined a community of folks who think this is great fun. There’s no reason why you can’t do it on your own, though. And ours is not the service offering tracking.
What advice do you have for maximizing the chance of the bottle being found?
It’s not hard to make a bottle be found. You could leave one on a park bench, for example. The trick is having it be found in an interesting way. We’ve put together a page that describes our thoughts on the best ways to construct and deploy message bottles.
I don’t live near the ocean. Where can I leave a bottle?
Rivers are good places, but you don’t have to drop your bottle into water. You can hide it in the forest, leave it on a train or even hide it under furniture in a hotel. They’re meant to travel through time as well as space. Some people have even walled them up during home reconstruction projects.
Can I order a bunch of bottles for my class/family/wedding/trip?
Yes, we can make a custom batch of bottles for you. Please contact us a Jeff@CollegeOfCuriosity.com and we’ll arrange something.
Wouldn’t plastic be better/safer?
While some people prefer plastic, we think it’s not a great solution. Plastic breaks down when exposed to the sun. This not only damages your message, but it can also damage the environment. Glass just turns into sand eventually. You can read our environmental impact statement.