A voice from the past

KILAUEA — It’s the stuff people read about — someone, somewhere writes a message in a bottle, and sends the bottle out to sea, hoping one day it will be found.

Over the years, messages have been plucked from beaches all around the world, sharing messages of love and friendship.

This summer, a message in a bottle was found on the shores of Kauai, on Waipake Beach in Kilauea.

“It was an old, green wine bottle made of heavy glass,” said Gary Langley, who found the bottle on July 5.

Langley, who serves on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team, found the bottle in the sand while he was searching for seals on the beach.

“I patrol 18 miles of beach everyday, and I pick up bottles and trash along the way,” Langley said. “This one had a message in it, so I took it home.”

He had to use pliers to open the bottle. The message inside was written in a different language, later identified as Russian.

Langley, who has friends from Romania and Abu Dhabi, took pictures of the message and sent 30 emails to various contacts, trying to find someone who could translate it.

On July 9, he got a reply from a former co-worker who had a Russian acquaintance.

Translated, the message says, “What was in this bottle was drunk on June 21, 1987, in honor of all medical professionals.”

He said he researched what could have happened in the medical world in 1987 to mark drinking a bottle of wine, but he hasn’t found anything of significance.

The bottle resides in Langley’s Kapaa home, next to a collection of sunrise shells.

A retired firefighter from Texas, Langley has been part of the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team since 2008. This is the first time he has come across a message in a bottle.

He said he doesn’t know what to make of the bottle’s message.

“All I know is that it was covered with barnacles,” he said. “I could tell it had been in the water for a long time, but I didn’t think it had been there since 1987.”


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