(SHISHMAREF, Alaska) — “Heartfelt greetings!” the note began.
Tyler Ivanoff found the surprise of a lifetime in a bottle on the shores of western Alaska earlier this month.
While gathering firewood off the coast of Shishmaref, an area 600 miles northwest of Anchorage, he noticed the bottle — with a note inside written in Russian 50 years ago.
“I showed my kids and when I got home later that evening around midnight, I shared it on Facebook,” Ivanoff told ABC News.
“I found a message in a bottle today,” Ivanoff wrote on Facebook. “Any Russian translators out there?”
After several of his friends shared the post overnight, about 10 reporters reached out to him. The post eventually landed in the hands of Rossiya 1, a state-owned Russian media network. Ivanoff said it only took one day for the network to track down the author of the letter.
Rossiya 1 told Ivanoff the author of the message was a sailor named Captain Anatoly Botsanenko, who wrote the note, marked June 20, 1969, while aboard a Russian ship named Sulak.
“From the Russian Fleet Far East shipping Company VRXF (East Fish Freezing Fleet) depot ship Sulak,” the translated note read. “I greet those who find the bottle and ask to respond to the address Vladivostok-43 VRXF Sulak to all crew.”
“It was pretty interesting,” Ivanoff told ABC News. “I thought it was just a random person; I never thought it would be the captain of a ship.”
At first, 86-year-old Captain Botsanenko didn’t recognize his letter, but burst into tears of joy after a second glance in a video produced by Russia 1, and translated by the BBC.
“That doesn’t look like my handwriting…” he told Russian TV channel Rossiya 1, “Oh yes, look! East industry fishing fleet!”
His 50-year-old note concluded, “We wish you good health, long years of life and happy sailing.”
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