An ocean swimmer who discovered a message in a mussel-crusted bottle that spent 808 days at sea plans to reunite the lucky find with its owner.
Scott Gutterson, 49, was free diving around Murrays Beach in Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW last week when he came across the bottle bobbing up and down 100 yards from shore.
The navy veteran discovered the sender was a 10-year-old girl whose father put the bottle in the sea in Newcastle in December 2020 – more than 300km from where it ended up.
Mr Gutterson told Daily Mail Australia the discovery made him feel like a ‘kid in a candy store’.
“It reminded me of when I wished a police motorcycle toy for Christmas when I was about 10 and when I opened my present, that’s what I got,” he said.
Scott Gutterson, 49, waited for his wife and two children to get home after he taped the bottle with 30 to 40 mussels to the outside (pictured) so they could open it together
The navy veteran discovered the sender was a 10-year-old girl whose father put the bottle (pictured) in the sea in Newcastle in December 2020 – more than 300km from where it ended up in Jervis Bay
Mr Gutterson (pictured) was free diving around Murrays Beach in Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW last week when he came across the message in a bottle bobbing up and down 100m from shore
“Super excited to say the least.”
He added that it was a welcome find after years of clearing debris from the oceans on his swimming and freediving missions.
“I found dog toys, hats, umbrellas, fishing rods and even two five dollar bills,” he said.
“So grateful that the ocean gave me a ‘treasure’ in return for taking care of the ocean.”
Mr. Gutterson waited for his wife and two children to get home after finding the bottle with 30 to 40 mussels stuck on it so they could open it together.
“My family all played the guessing game of the location and what the message was in it,” he said on social media last Sunday.
The messenger turned out to be written by Vicky, who was 10 years old at the time and living in Canberra.
Her father Ted launched the bottle into the ocean with her on December 9, 2020 while they were in Newcastle – before he was about to take to sea with the Navy.
The handwritten letter the young girl scribbled revealed her address, a phone number to contact, and her birthday.
She also asked the recipient to write back to her.
Mr Gutterson called the number and spoke to the now 13-year-old girl and her father who were stunned at the discovery.
Through an unusual double coincidence, Mr. Gutterson discovered that he and the girl’s father had similar backgrounds in the Navy, as well as some local connections.
He said Ted is still in the Navy, while Mr. Gutterson spent 17 years as a naval aviator and now flies for Toll Helicopters on a NSW Ambulance contract.
Ted’s parents live in Gerringong, 40 miles north of Jervis Bay, the same place where Mr. Gutterson lives.
“They were like, ‘No way!'” he said when he called them with the news of his discovery, adding the families had arranged to meet at Easter, where the letter would be returned to Vicky.
The handwritten letter (pictured) the young girl scribbled down revealed her address, a phone number to contact and her birthday
“The ocean always gives me incredible surprises, but this was the next level I won’t forget,” Mr Gutterson said on social media (pictured, the message in a bottle)
He added that it was a welcome find after years of clearing debris from the oceans during his swimming and freediving missions (pictured, Mr. Gutterson with an umbrella discovered in the water)
“(Ted) couldn’t believe his ears when I said I had his daughter’s letter in my hand and the location where the bottle was found,” Mr Gutterson said on social media.
“I talked to Vicky (now 13) and she couldn’t believe it either.”
He said the bottle would have to be broken to get to the message, but he would frame the letter and create a timeline of the bottle’s journey for the young girl.
“The ocean always throws incredible surprises, but this was the next level I won’t forget,” said Mr. Gutterson.