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Drifter bottle postcards

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Between 1956 and 1972 WHOI oceanographer Dean Bumpus dispatched nearly 300,000 messages in bottles, asking people to notify him where and when they found them. To encourage a response, Bumpus offered a 50-cent reward (in an era when postcard stamps were 4 to 6 cents). About 10 percent came back to Woods Hole, giving Bumpus data to begin charting then-unknown ocean currents off the U.S. East Coast. Bumpus’s bottles are still found today—one as recently as February 2014 on Sable Island off Nova Scotia. The WHOI Archives contains dozens of boxes containing postcards returned by people who found them on distant shores. (Photo by Ken Kostel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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