Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. student's message in a bottle found in France, draws scientific interest

Devon Maher, 10, gave his father a message in a bottle to drop into the North Atlantic during a crab fishing trip in May 2016. It was found months later, on the other side of the ocean.

Growth that formed on bottle during 18-month transatlantic journey interests

Devon Maher, 10, got his dad to drop this message in a bottle in the ocean off the coast of Salvage, N.L., in May 2016. This month, it was discovered by Amélie Philip in France. (Facebook/Amélie Philip)

Ten-year-old Devon Maher gave his father a bottle with a message inside to drop into the North Atlantic over a year ago during a crab fishing trip off the coast of Salvage, N.L., not knowing if anything would come of it. 

Last week, the bottle was found by a woman in western France who, through the power of social media, sought him out to let him know his message was received.

It took 18 months for a message in a bottle to make its way from the waters off Salvage, N.L., to Plouarzel Beach in western France. (Google Maps)

"They were very excited about finding the bottle, and I've read in some of her comments that she would love to come to Newfoundland and come to Salvage," Devon's mother, Emily Maher, told the St. John's Morning Show on Monday.

"She and her husband had been walking on the beach, I think it was a resort. They were walking on the beach with their dog and came across the bottle."

Devon with his message before putting it in a glass bottle and having it dropped in the ocean back in May 2016. (Submitted by Emily Maher)

Devon was inspired after hearing his father say something about a message in a bottle one night, and brought the idea to his teacher — who thought it would be a good writing exercise for him.

After composing a short note and sealing it inside the glass bottle, he gave it to his father during the fishing trip on May 11, 2016.

Message received

Eighteen months later, someone wrote Emily Maher to let her know that Amélie Philip had posted in a Salvage-area Facebook group looking to track down Devon, to let him know that his message was found.

In a post on her own profile, Philip said she found the bottle in an area known as Plouarzel Beach.

Devon's father dropped the message in a bottle into North Atlantic from this boat, which he uses to fish for crab. (Submitted by Emily Maher)

"We managed to find little Devon thanks to your shares, thank you very much," she wrote in the post.

Philip and the Maher family have since been contacted by journalists from France and Canada who want to know the story, and the two families have chatted through Facebook and talked about how much they would love to visit each other's homes someday.

Unplanned science experiment

In the photo that Philip posted after the discovery, a growth of some kind can be seen hanging from the top of the bottle.

The Mahers first thought it was just a decoration that Philip had put on top after she discovered it, but Philip said it had developed on the bottle during its journey across the Atlantic.

It caught the eye of a scientist who called the Mahers to get more information.

With files from St. John's Morning Show