Message in a Bottle

Conservationist on a remote Papua New Guinean island finds message from American girl thrown overboard more than 2,500km away, two years earlier.

On the remote Conflict Islands of Papua New Guinea, conservation ranger Steven Amos was cleaning the beachfront on Panasesa Island when he stumbled across something that was not thoughtlessly thrown away, but consciously sent as a message to an unknown recipient, somewhere in the world.

Nearly two years earlier, then 17-year-old American Niki Nie had dropped the message overboard as she crossed the equator, sailing with her family between Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands. The bottle contained a handful of rice grains and a few seashells. And a note.

“I suppose if you are reading this, it means that this bottle has survived its long journey and managed to safely land in your hands. I hope it finds you well! I am extremely curious to know where this bottle landed and how long it took to get there.”

Amos, who has been working with the Conflict Islands Conservation Initiative for four years, involved in turtle conservation and plastic collection, said he was ecstatic when he found the bottle. “When I read the letter, I tried my best to get in touch with Miss Nie and with my colleague’s assistance - I was able to do that. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep when I was told I was to meet her via Zoom,” Amos said.

Nie said: “When I threw the bottle overboard, I never imagined that I would actually meet the person who found my message. I also would never have guessed that it [bottle] would have landed in Alotau, Papua New Guinea - but it’s incredibly amazing.”

Amos has invited Nie to the Conflict Islands when Covid-19 restrictions ease.