Nova Scotia

How a fishing balloon from Yarmouth made its way to Norway and back

It took about 2½ years and a 10,000-km journey, but a Nova Scotia fisherman got his fishing balloon back, thanks to some help from the Canadian Forces.

Norwegian Lars Framvik used Facebook to locate the owner, and the Canadian Forces took it from there

On Dec. 11, Tracey Saulnier, centre, received the balloon from her husband's fishing boat. (Leading Seaman L-P Dubé, 14 Wing Imaging)

After Lars Framvik and a friend found a fishing balloon on the shore of Andenes, Norway, in November 2015, Framvik wanted to find its owner, but there were a few challenges.

While there was a phone number on the balloon, it didn't have an area or country code, so phoning the owner wasn't an option. While it was marked with the vessel name, Blaine + Hayden, Framvik thought that was the place it was from.

But the balloon did contain another hint: the name Terry Saulnier appeared on it.

Framvik put his search for the owner on the back burner until recently, when he signed up for Facebook. Searching Saulnier's name, Framvik came across a profile for Saulnier's wife, Tracey, about two months ago.

Before sending the balloon back to Nova Scotia, Lars Framvik, right, decided to decorate it for Christmas. (Submitted by Lars Framvik)

Framvik sent her a message with some pictures of the balloon and asked whether it was her husband's. It was.

Terry Saulnier fishes out of Yarmouth Bar, N.S., which is 5,232 kilometres from Andenes, a small fishing village in northern Norway.

The balloon, which floated on the surface of the water, was connected to lobster traps to indicate where they were. It measures about 60 by 90 centimetres, meaning it would be expensive to ship. Framvik wanted to get it back to the Saulniers, so he hatched another plan.

Andenes, Norway, is a fishing village in the northern part of the country. (Shutterstock)

Framvik said Canadian Forces personnel are regularly in Andenes. It isn't clear why this is the case, and the military did not immediately respond to a request for details.

Some Forces members were there recently and Framvik asked if he could send the balloon back with them. After they got the OK from officials, it was sent on an Aurora plane to CFB Greenwood.

The balloon looked a lot different from when it was lost in April 2015. It was now decorated for the Christmas holidays and had messages in English and Norwegian. Framvik said he wanted it to be a Christmas card from Norway.

Terry Saulnier said he plans to hang his fishing balloon in his garage. (Submitted by Tracey Saulnier)

"I don't think he's going to use it for fishing anymore," said Framvik.

Terry Saulnier said he plans on hanging the balloon in his garage. The lobster fisherman said each year he loses about 15 per cent of his balloons.

He said when fishermen find balloons lost by other fishermen, they usually sell them back for $10 each.

"He's never gotten one back from away, other than locally," said Tracey Saulnier.

How did the balloon end up in Norway?

CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said ocean currents are responsible for getting the balloon to Norway.

  "Objects floating in the Atlantic waters surrounding Nova Scotia often drift into the Gulf Stream, which runs up off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and outside of Sable Island," he said.

"From there, the Gulf Stream can transport those objects into what is called the North Atlantic Drift, which flows from west to east across the northern Atlantic Ocean."

Mitchell said the North Atlantic Drift then branches off into a number of smaller ocean currents, including the Norwegian Current that runs parallel to the north coast of Norway.

According to Google Maps, the distance between Yarmouth, N.S., and Andenes, Norway, is 5,232 km. (Google Maps)

Besides the fishing connection between Yarmouth and Andenes, there are other similarities between the places. Framvik said people in Andenes are friendly and help each other. That hospitality is evident in an offer Framvik made to the Saulniers.

"This man from Norway has invited us to his home and we have a place to stay when we go visit Norway if we ever do," said Tracey.

She said she and her husband plan to go to Germany for a trip in a few years and are thinking about including a visit to Norway.

Lars Framvik said he initially thought Blaine + Hayden referred to the name of a place. (Submitted by Lars Framvik)