Message in a Bottle

As many are aware, Midway has become a dumping ground for the depressingly endless piles of garbage floating around in the ocean. 

Volunteers collect interesting (and less interesting) bits of trash whenever they are beachcombing or checking on the birds. A couple of days ago I found a baby pink toothbrush lying half in/half out of an albatross nest, and gave it to a colleague who’s specifically collecting toothbrushes. 

Another is collecting plastic lighters for an artist friend who transforms them into collages. Here’s one piece made for the barracks where we are staying:


Some days ago, when teams were counting albatross on Eastern Island, one counter, Sandra, found a well-corked wine bottle with several sheets of clean dry paper rolled up inside it. There has been some excitement building about the contents, so she decided to make a special event of it and open the bottle at our Christmas lunch.

Firstly, I should say that the feast did not disappoint! Here’s the menu posted on the door:


So, after being well wined and dined, Sandra attempts to extract the message from the bottle. Easier said than done! Seeing the struggle, the head chef (who is Thai) offers to help. He disappears into the kitchen, eventually proudly reappearing with a clean bottle, and no paper.

Seems the original intention got somewhat lost in translation! Turns out he assumed she just wanted the bottle, so he filled it full of water, shook it vigorously, yanked out the sheets which were by then in tiny sodden shreds and chucked them away.


An ambitious and optimistic few were determined to piece together the matted soggy puzzle. They could clearly identify some English words and phrases including ‘ship’ and ‘leak’ and ‘stupid’, so I’m hoping there isn’t someone stranded on a desert island still waiting to be rescued! 😜

I’m not ashamed to say I left them to it,  to enjoy a sunny Christmas Day walk on the beach instead! 

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