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Message in a bottle from 1914 fished from sea

A message in a bottle hauled from the depths by a fishing boat has set a new world record for the length of time spent at sea, beating the previous record by more than five years.

The bottle, released in 1914 as part of a scientific experiment, turned up nearly 98 years later in a net during a fishing mission east of Shetland.

Incredibly, it was discovered by the same vessel, from Lerwick, that found the previous world record holder. The find has now been confirmed by Guinness World Records.

Fisherman Andrew Leaper spoke of his pride after spotting the bottle in his catch on 12 April this year. The 43-year-old skipper of the vessel Copious said: "It was an amazing coincidence that the same Shetland fishing boat that found the previous record-breaking bottle six years ago also found this one.

"It's like winning the lottery twice – this is a very popular fishing ground, with half the North Sea fleet fishing here. As we hauled in the nets I spotted the bottle neck sticking out and I quickly grabbed it before it fell back in the sea."

Drift bottle 646B, as it is known, was released on 10 June 1914 by Captain CH Brown of the Glasgow School of Navigation, as part of a batch of 1,890 scientific research bottles designed to sink towards the seabed.

By tracking the location of returned bottles it was possible for the under-currents of the seas around Scotland to be mapped out for the first time.

The water-tight glass bottles contained a postcard asking the finder to record the date and location of the discovery and return it to the director of the Fishery Board for Scotland, for a reward of six old pence. Of the batch released in 1914, 315 bottles have been found.

The original log of Captain Brown, now held by Marine Scotland Science in Aberdeen, is updated each time a discovery is made.

The previous record was held by a bottle which spent more than 92 years at sea. It, too, was a bottom drift bottle and was recovered by fisherman Mark Anderson, of Shetland, in December 2006.

Andrew Leaper has donated the bottle, along with the Guinness World Records certificate, to the Fetlar Interpretive Centre in Shetland, a community-run museum.