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Messages from the Sea is a collection of letters and notes from a lost era of seafaring.

These messages were found washed ashore on beaches and bobbing in water, in corked glass bottles and wax-sealed boxes, inside the mouths of codfish and in the bellies of sharks, carved on pieces of wrecked ships and attached to the necks of seabirds.

They tell tales of foundering ships, missing ocean liners and shipwrecked sailors, and contain moving farewells, romantic declarations and intriguing confessions. Some solve the mysteries of lost vessels and crews, while others create new mysteries yet to be solved.

The messages date from the late-19th and early-20th centuries, an era before ship-to-shore radio, when a vessel lost contact with the world once it disappeared over the horizon. For many seafarers, the message in a bottle was an important form of communication.

Found messages were published in local and national newspapers around the world, often in columns titled Messages from the Sea, from which the content of this website is drawn. Together, they demonstrate the brave, lonely and fragile nature of life on the ocean waves.


The Messages from the Sea book was published on 19 September 2016.

Messages from the Sea
Letters and Notes from a Lost Era Found in Bottles and on Beaches Around the World
Compiled by Paul Brown
Published by Superelastic, 19 September 2016
Hardback, ISBN 9780995541207
Paperback, ISBN 9780995541214
Also available as an eBook

Get book: Amazon UK Amazon US Worldwide

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Messages from the Sea is compiled by Paul Brown.

Header image by Franzi @ Frimages.

Vintage illustrations from The Sea: Its Stirring Story (1877) by artist and explorer Frederick Whymper.

Video footage by Phil Fried, voiceover by Matthew Wade.

You can get in touch with us via our contact page.

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