Friday, October 8, 2010

Message In A Bottle - It's Not Littering, It's Science! - SPONSOR WANTED FOR "GREY GOOSE" EXPEDITION

Global warming is melting ice in the Arctic and that means more cold water entering the oceans.   How it will affect ocean currents is unknown, numerical models of chaos being pretty useless, but there is a way to at least start to find out - throw a biodegradable bottle off a ship and wait for it to wash ashore.   If it turns up some place you never expected or lands where you expect but much faster than models show, it could be evidence of ocean current change and, with that, changes in weather.

Enter Bonita LeBlanc, an 11th grader from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and her drift bottle experiment.   How did she get this cool research project at an age when I was ... well, we won't get into that ... but here's how; when she was 13, LeBlanc read an article about Eddy Carmack, a Canadian oceanographer conducting drift bottle research off the coast of Brazil.

So she got in touch with with him and asked how she could start doing drift bottle research too. Eddy told her to contact the Canadian Coast Guard, which agreed(!) to drop bottles for her from the icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent - shameless plug for companies doing a nice thing: the 100 percent biodegradable bottles were donated by Sleeman Breweries - double bonus, the Sleeman family were booze runners during Prohibition (the Canadian version first) so he knew how to use a Thompson.

So LeBlance wrote notes saying why the bottles were being dropped and who to contact if they were found, corking and coating each one with wax to make a waterproof seal. 
Bonita LeBlanc

For two years, the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent’s crew tossed nearly 600 of LeBlanc's bottles into the Arctic Ocean but finally in 2009, during the International Polar Year, Youth Science Canada program selected a lucky student (LeBlanc) to join the crew of the research ship CCGS Amundsen  and she got the chance to throw them overboard herself.

What was that like?   Being seasick and shivering through -40º C temperatures can't be all that great but she got to hang out with oceanographers and talk about their work - and eat some caribou.

Don't tell Greenpeace about that last part.

Commanding Officer Anthony Potts, CCGS Louis St.Laurent, and Bonita LeBlanc
Commanding Officer Anthony Potts, CCGS Louis St.Laurent, and Bonita LeBlanc at the beginning of her drift bottle project in 2006.  Photo: Natalie Cordiner / Norman LeBlanc

So what was the result?

Only four percent of all drift bottles are ever found - most sink, get buried in sand or wash up in a spot where people never find them.  Of the hundreds of bottles from LeBlanc’s first batch, seven have been found—three on Baffin Island, two in Ireland, one in England and one in Iceland.  It normally takes a  few years for a bottle to make its way to shore so her most recent bottles are still floating somewhere in the ocean.

Oldest Message in a Bottle
92 years 229 days
Shetland, UK
December 10, 2006

The oldest message in a bottle spent 92 years 229 days at sea. A bottom drift bottle, numbered 423B, was released at 60º 50'N 00º 38'W on 25 April 1914 and recovered by fisherman, Mark Anderson of Bixter, Shetland, UK, at 60º 50'N 00º 37'W on December 10, 2006.


Message in a Bottle Becomes Dream Honeymoon
Tortuga Rum Promotion Redeemed in Cayman Islands After 19 Years

A young Ingleside, Texas police officer found a message in a bottle that was put in the ocean nearly 20 years ago. The message led to Caribbean adventure and pirate treasure: a dream honeymoon trip to the Cayman Islands and a case of Tortuga rum. Here's how the story unfolds:
On June 13, 1987 in the Cayman Islands, Robert Hamaty, founder of the then newly started Tortuga Rum Company and some friends put 12 rum bottles into the ocean. They had emptied the rum and put in notes for a free (one way) plane trip on Cayman Airways to come to Grand Cayman to claim a case of Tortuga Rum, and stay at the Sunset House Hotel. Within the next 18 months, 4 people claimed their prizes, finding the bottles on South Padre Island TX. It was assumed that the other bottles were lost at sea.

In April 2003 while looking for some bait near Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass, John Reed discovered a bottle bobbing in the roots of a mangrove. Inside were three certificates -- from Cayman Airways, Sunset House and the Tortuga Rum Company explaining the prize. His brother, then a reporter for the Taylor Daily Press (TX) contacted and interviewed Hamaty for a story. Then no one heard from the Reed family for another three years.
John had no time to go to the Caymans and gave the prize to his parents. They were moving and put the certificates in a safe in hopes that someday they or someone could take the trip. This June, Reed's parents contacted Hamaty to make sure the offer would still be honored after all these years. They wanted to give the prize back to their son for his honeymoon.
Reed, now 26 years old, married Stephanie Smith, age 21 in Rockport, TX on Friday July 21. The young couple traded in those tattered certificates found in a Tortuga rum bottle for their dream honeymoon. Cayman Airways changed their tickets to round trip, first class for two. The Sunset House extended their stay to five nights and Budget of Grand Cayman provided a free rental car. The Cayman Department of Tourism arranged a horse-drawn carriage ride at sunset to dinner at the Grand Old House and several other local restaurants provided free meals during their stay. Tortuga and the Hamaty family welcomed the Reeds and coordinated all the logistics.
tortuga rum treasure certificate

The Reeds receive Tortuga rum
Reed's Receive Tortuga Rum

Ironically, this spring, Tortuga Rums were introduced into the US market for the first time, so John Reed did not need to pick up his case of rum in the Caymans. The importer, Majestic Distilling arranged for a personal delivery in Corpus Christi Texas.
Another irony, Hamaty's son Basil is a First Officer for Cayman Airways and flew on the flight crew for the Houston to Grand Cayman route that the Reeds took on their honeymoon.
It's a Caribbean, dream-come-true adventure - all from a message in a bottle dropped in the ocean so many years before. As John Reed concluded following their fabulous trip," Who would have thought you could squeeze so much fun and fond memories into one Tortuga Rum bottle! "
Tortuga Rums now are available in 35 states. Tortuga Gold Rum and Tortuga Light Rum are available in 1.75, liter and 750ml bottles. Tortuga Banana Rum, Coconut Rum and Spiced Rum will be introduced later in the year.
Maryland's oldest independent distillery, Majestic Distilling Company was founded in 1943. The company offers quality products and packaging at consumer friendly pricing with unprecedented service to its wholesale network. See
Tortuga Rum Company, Ltd. was founded by Robert Hamaty, a captain for Cayman Airways and his wife Carlene, an in-flight supervisor. They watched tourists toting home bottles of rum as vacation souvenirs - even from islands where sugar cane, the main ingredient for rum, wasn't grown. A business idea was born and the Hamatys introduced Tortuga as the Cayman Islands first private label rum in 1984.
Today, this family owned and operated company is the largest duty-free liquor business in the Cayman Islands. Its premium and flavored Tortuga Rums are special blends of Jamaican and Barbados rums and a favorite souvenir of the millions of cruise passengers and other tourists who visit the Caymans each year. The company also is known for its world famous Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes, the #1 export of the Cayman Islands.

The Reeds Cayman honeymoon
The Reed's in Cayman Islands



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