American 11-th grade boy Dennis Davis from Naples, Florida, became famous in a small Spanish village near Malpica without ever visiting Spain.
In a place know as Costa de Muerte (Coast of Death) village resident Desiderio Otero Pose found a 3-year-old glass bottle containing the Naples boy's message that was washed up on the beach by the waves.
The man then gave the bottle to his 13-year-old son Julin Otero Surez, who learned all about Dennis’ favorite sports, his hometown and his likes and dislikes after studying the message.
When the local newspapers published articles about Dennis, who lives 4,000 miles away, the boy became a celebrity among the Spanish villagers. American teenager, now 16, says he would love to read the foreign article that features him. However, this might take a while since he just recently began taking a Spanish course.
"I thought it was kind of weird that I've never been there, and I see my name in their newspaper," Dennis said. "It's like I'm famous in another country."
Sending bottled messages was the idea of a former Oak Ridge Middle School biology teacher Carie Jarnot. Jarnot said she and another teacher Scott Barham came up with this project in order to teach their students about the Gulf Stream’s current flow as it comes past Florida, up and over the Atlantic Ocean and, eventually, into the Arctic Ocean.
In November 2003, the two teachers asked their students to bring glass bottles to class and fill them with notes about themselves, including the contact information, their ages, their interests and life descriptions.
The teachers sent the bottles to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Miami. Officials took them aboard a research vessel and launched them into the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 90 miles from the Florida coast.
Jarnot said that she and Barham have received many responses from the people who had found their students’ messages. Most of the feedback came from Bahamas where the bottles got caught.
Apparently Dennis’ bottle is the first one to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean. "I just thought it was going to be fun," he said. "I never thought anyone would find my bottle. I just thought it would sink down to the bottom of the ocean."
Dennis mother was very excited about her son’s fame. “Next time I go out into the ocean I will send my own message in a bottle,” she smiled.
Unfortunately the two boys weren’t able to establish any contact with each other yet because Dennis changed his e-mail address after he finished the 8th grade.