British Message in a Bottle Gets Reply From Australia

Jan. 19, 2006 — -- It was last summer when 4-year-old Alesha Johnson threw a plastic bottle containing a message into the sea off Lancashire in northwest England. It was a class project, and every kid in the class was given a bottle to take home.

Sonia Matthews went straight to Morecambe Bay with her daughter. Alesha was just 3 at the time and could barely throw the plastic bottle beyond her feet.

She had drawn a picture of herself and written: "My name is Alesha. If you get this message, please write back." She enclosed her address. Matthews, of Heysham, a tiny village on the edge of Morecambe Bay, assumed the Coca-Cola bottle would be washed back ashore because it landed only a few feet in front of Alesha.

But she was wrong. This week, Alesha, her mother, and the nursery in Heysham were stunned to receive a reply.

Alesha's message washed up in a boatyard near Perth in Western Australia, where it was spotted by 10-year-old Bob, The Times of London reported.

Nobody knows exactly how the message got to Perth. The most likely route would have been into the Atlantic, past the west coast of Africa, and into the Southern Hemisphere. This marathon voyage would also have crossed the Indian Ocean.

Matthews told the Times that Bob had made a copy of Alesha's original note and returned it to the nursery in Heysham.

He wrote: "It's traveled a long way. My dad had to look on the Internet to find out where Morecambe is. We are in the middle of moving house and it's Christmas here but when we are settled I'll write to you again."

In a phone interview with ABC News, Penny Holliday of the Institute of Oceanography expressed doubts about the time it took for the bottle to complete its journey.

"It is surprising because the bottle will have to travel at great speeds to have been able to complete the journey in the time it did and that is unlikely," she said.

Alesha's mom, however, is proud and happy. She admitted that when she heard the news that Alesha had a reply, she couldn't believe it.

"I was walking on air for four days and was really happy," she said.

"I don't think Alesha really understands it all. She's only 4. But I never stop going on about it," she told the newspaper.