Cape Cod

A 5th grader tossed a message in a bottle off Cape Cod in 1997. Someone in France just found it.

More than 25 years after Ben Lyons tossed a message in a bottle off the shores of Cape Cod as part of a science project, it's been found 3,300 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

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Nearly three decades after a middle school student tossed a message in a bottle off the shores of Cape Cod, the letter has been returned – with a response.

The letter, written in 1997 by a 5th grade student in Sandwich, Massachusetts, was part of a science project about ocean currents, according to staff at Oak Ridge School.



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“We got an inter-office envelope that was addressed to this student, Ben, and the Secretaries were looking for him everywhere,” explained Assistant Principal Brandy Clifford. “They could not find this fifth grader.”

It wasn’t until someone opened the envelope that, Clifford said, they realized who Ben was and what they were holding.

“They felt like they found a treasure when they saw a letter from this gentleman from France, and then this letter that was dated in 1997.”

Thanks to time, tides and a retired fisherman more than 3,300 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, Ben, now in his 30s, is getting a response to the questions in his letter.

“He said where did you find the bottle? What are the condition of the bottle?” explained Clifford, reading the original letter. “If you could, please fill out the questions and return. Thank you. Ben.”

According to the man’s response, written in French, the bottle was found on the beach in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France.

“He said that he was walking around the beach, cleaning the beach, and he found the bottle and it was sealed tight with wax… and he had a really hard time opening it,” said Clifford.

Newspapers in France also documented the discovery.

NBC10 Boston did track Ben Lyons down out of state. His family said he could not comment on the story due to his job, but released the following statement: “It’s great the kids can learn about the oceans and currents from this. Showing what a small world it actually is. We’ve had fun reading the different articles and the interest this has generated.”

As for what’s next, staff at the Oak Ridge School said they intend to keep the letters going by writing the gentleman in France back, thanking him for this thoughtful response.

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