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54-Year-Old Message in a Bottle Found in Canadian Arctic

MODIS satellite true color image of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
MODIS satellite true color image of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. (Image credit: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response: http://lance-modis.eosdis.nasa.gov/imagery/rapid/)

In 1959, Paul T. Walker, an American glaciologist, buried a message in a bottle under a pile of rocks on Ward Hunt Island, in the northernmost part of the Canadian Arctic. Fifty-four years later, researchers who set out to collect microbes on the remote island stumbled upon the message from the now-deceased Walker, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The message, tucked under a man-made stone structure known as a cairn, read: "To Whom it May Concern: This and a similar cairn 21.3 feet to the west were set on July 10, 1959. The distance from this cairn to the glacier edge about four feet from the rock floor is 168.3 feet.

Anyone venturing this way is requested to remeasure this distance and send the information to: Paul T. Walker, Department of Geology, The Ohio State University, Columbus 10, Ohio, USA and Mr. Albert P. Crary, Air Force Cambridge Research Center, 11 Leon St., Boston 15, Mass. USA. Thank you very much."

Walker, 25 at the time, suffered a stroke in 1959 while on an Arctic expedition. Left paralyzed, he was rescued by a bush pilot, but died in November at his parents' home in Pasadena, Calif.

"We were reading some of his last words," said Warwick F. Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec City, and one of the researchers who found the message, according to the LA Times.

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Denise Chow
Denise Chow is the Assistant Managing Editor at Live Science. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, where she wrote about rocket launches and covered NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.