2015 Arctic drift bottle found on Icelandic coast!


In another incredible twist of fate, a drift bottle thrown from the MS Ocean Endeavour over the Davis Straight was found on the coast of Vestrahorn, Iceland! Written by 2015 Arctic alumni Indigo Goehring, the message inside was picked up on a sunny Monday morning by Slovakian couple Barbora and Stefan on March 13, 2017.

Finding a message in a bottle had been nothing more than a childhood dream for Barbora & Stefan who were out picking up trash on one of Iceland’s iconic black sand beaches outside of town. For Indigo, the discovery was an amazing stroke of luck: “I was amazed, I never expected my bottle to go anywhere. When we were writing the letters I remember wondering what was the point, because no one was going to find my bottle anyway! Well good thing I actually wrote that letter!”

We believe that gentle action has big power, so when we see that there is a trash somewhere outside, we try to pick it up (at least something) and then recycle it. We are often amazed how much of plastic garbage we find on the beach …it is unbelievable! If only the ocean could be free from it and we would use the plastic stuff in other way – recycle and reuse it…not just throw it to ocean.”

– Barbora & Stefan, Iceland

Barbora and Stefan describe themselves as loving nature and wildlife: “We are thinking often how to live with as low impact on mother Earth as possible… When we will finish working in the hotel, we would like to set up a permaculture farm and grow our own food and live just simply and peacefully. It seems that the most majority of garbage on the beach are the plastic bottles. So we said to ourselves that our goal is now minimise the use of plastic bottles in our lives”. What turned out to be an extraordinary week for the couple took an even bigger turn, when Stefan asked Barbora to marry him the day after the bottle-drop was found. She said yes 🙂

Barbora and Stefan – newly engaged in Iceland.

Indigo Goerhing, 2015 Arctic

Vestrahorn, Iceland. Co-ordinates 64.257085, -14.963636

Finding a drift bottle is a special thing.  Across the entirety of the program, which was started in 2000 by the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia and adopted into the Students On Ice curriculum in 2001, only around 1 in every 25 bottles are found. Most are lost to sea, buried in sand, or leak and become unreadable over time – which sounds like an even more mysterious discovery to find on a beach. The Drift Bottle Project is considered one of the more environmentally friendly ways to study ocean currents. While it is estimated that glass bottles can take up to 1 million years to degrade, they do so in a way less harmful to the environment than leaching plastic or metal. Successful finds contribute to ever changing global ocean circulation research, which is rapidly changing due to climate change. At the end of it’s life, the glass from the bottle breaks down enough to return to the marine environment as sand.

Its a miracle the bottle even left the ship at all! With a wild arm, Indigo remembers the day of the bottle drop:

“The funniest thing I remember from the bottle drop is throwing the bottle overboard. We had just written our letters, put them inside the bottles and then sealed them with wax and we were lining up to throw them in. I made my friends take a video of me throwing my bottle in, and good thing they did! Because when I threw it in, I almost broke it on the side of the ship! I have really bad aim, and though I was aiming for the ocean, the bottle missed the edge of the ship by about 1 inch! The entire group of people all gasped and cringed at once, thinking I had shattered my bottle.” 

Here’s to more new ocean understandings and cross-oceanic connections.


Students on Ice is proudly supported by bv02.

This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.