Fisherman Finds Message in a Bottle Written by Cape Cod Student in 1997: 'What a Small World'

The bottle was thrown into the water at Nantucket Sound as part of a science project about ocean currents, per reports

<p>Getty</p> The Nobska Lighthouse along Nantucket Sound


The Nobska Lighthouse along Nantucket Sound

A French man recently came across a message in a bottle that was tossed into the Atlantic Ocean 26 years ago as part of a school project.

Hubert Eriau, a 71-year-old fisherman, found the bottle on the shores of a beach in Les Sables-d’Olonne, Vendée, on Aug. 11, according to United Press International and The Enterprise.

The letter was written in October 1997 by Ben Lyons, a former 5th grade student at the Forestdale School in Sandwich, Mass., The Enterprise and NBC Boston reported.

The bottle was thrown into the water at Nantucket Sound as part of a science project about ocean currents, as seen in a photo of the letter, shared by NBC Boston.

Related: Kentucky Man's Message in a Bottle Returned 37 Years After He Tossed It into the Sea as a Little Boy

Eriau’s response, which was addressed to Lyons, only recently reached Oak Ridge School, also within Sandwich’s public school district. Staff members first looked for the student it was addressed to before opening the envelope.

It was then that they realized they were holding something truly special. “They felt like they found a treasure when they saw a letter from this gentleman from France, and then this letter that was dated in 1997,” Clifford told NBC Boston.

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Retired Forestdale science teacher Frederic J. Hemmila was the teacher behind the special ocean currents assignment, according to UPI and The Enterprise.

Other messages in bottles from Hemmila’s class have been found in various places around the world, like Greenland, 6th-grade science teacher Carol Archambeault said.

“As a culminating activity for the unit, students put a message in a bottle, and a friend of Fred’s, who was a captain of a boat, took the bottles offshore and dropped them into the ocean,” Archambeault explained to The Enterprise.

Related: Massachusetts Man Receives Answer to Message in a Bottle Sent 9 Years Ago: 'This Is Insane'

In his written response, Eriau said he was cleaning the beach when he spotted the bottle, according to Assistant Principal Brandy Clifford.

Eriau initially “had a really hard time opening” the bottle, which was “sealed tight with wax,” Clifford said.

Lyons is now in his 30s and lives out of state, according to NBC Boston. In a statement, his family said they have “had fun reading the different articles and the interest this has generated.”

“It’s great the kids can learn about the oceans and currents from this. Showing what a small world it actually is,” the family added, per NBC Boston.

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