CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — You can call them beachcombers, or maybe even treasure hunters. Either way, Jim and Candy Duke are used to finding unusual things that have washed up on the beach.
They have it all on display on their fence at home -- ropes, bottles, nets, hard hats, even a mannequin head that washed ashore -- but a recent stroll along Malequite Beach turned up the Holy Grail of bottles.
Mixed in with a bunch of tree limbs they found a real message in a bottle.
"And the message said 'break bottle', and we said no, we are not going to break it," Candy said.
It looked pretty old, so they took their find back home to try and figure out how to get the message out of the bottle. They captured the entire process on Facebook Live. They tried to uncork it, which proved to be difficult as the seal broke their wine opener.
Still, they kept going.
"As a romantic you always want to find that message in a bottle," Candy said. "Is it from some guy to a girl, or vice versa? Or did you win something?"
Eventually, the couple managed to open the bottle and were finally able to get their hands on the mysterious note.
"It says, 'Important. This bottle is one of a series released at known locations in the Gulf of Mexico by scientists by the Galveston Botanical Laboratories of the U.S. Bureau of the Commercial Fisheries," Candy said.
Today that organization is known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
The letter goes on to explain that the scientists released the bottles as part of a study to determine the role the current plays in the movement of young shrimp.
"It said to fill out the post card and mail it in," Candy said. "It wanted your name and address, and the location and the date you found it."
So Jim and Candy did just that.
"A 50-cent reward will be sent for each completed," Candy said.
It turns out the bottle was one of about 7,800 bottles that were thrown into the Gulf of Mexico in 1962, making the bottle half a century old.
The couple kept the bottle. It might not have contained a treasure, but they sure do have a story to tell.