Swedes’ viral plea finds sender of bottle message

Swedes' viral plea finds sender of bottle message
A close-up of the letter Herman Andreas Brunbäck Larsen enclosed in the bottle in 2004. Photo: Sara Hoffman
A Swedish family has told The Local how they tracked down the sender of a mystery message in a bottle when their Facebook appeal went viral – 11 years after the letter was thrown into the sea by a Norwegian boy.

Herman Andreas Brunbäck Larsen, now 20, threw the message into the sea near his home in Fredrikstad when he was nine years old back in 2004.

“I am a boy who liked to jump on the trampoline,” he wrote in Norwegian. “I am called Herman and I am nine years old.”

Sara Hoffmann, 32, from Hunnebostrand on the coast north of Gothenburg in western Sweden, found the bottle when the family was out in the nearby archipelago with their boat.

“When we got to one of the islands we found a bottle stuck between some rocks,” she told The Local. “It wasn't damaged, we could read it exactly as when it was written. He put the date on, so then we knew that it had been away at sea for some years and that was exciting.”

That was three years ago, meaning the bottle had been floating for some eight years.

Hoffman posted a picture of the note on Facebook at the time but nothing came of it. Last week, however, the photo reappeared in her Facebook stream, and she decided to repost it with a plea to others to share it.

“I just posted it on my page and we wrote that we had found Herman's note and that we wanted people to help us find Herman, and then almost 9,000 people had shared it on their pages.”

“Now I know that things do spread over Facebook, three years ago I didn't think it was possible,” she continued. “I expected maybe 15 people to share it.”

READ ALSO: Swede gets bottle message reply after 22 years

Within about 24 hours, the post had been shared 9,000 times, and Hoffman had been contacted by five different Norwegians called Herman who thought they may have sent the bottle.

She quickly tracked down the real one.

“I cannot remember anything more than that I wrote a message and threw it into the sea in a bottle. I've only written one bottle mail in my life,” Brunbäck Larsen told Norway's state broadcaster NRK. “It's strange how much attention a bottle can create.”

Although he has so far only communicated with the Hoffmans over Facebook Messenger, and on a radio programme broadcast by NRK, Brunbäck Larsen has agreed to come and visit the family later this summer.

“The children are so excited about this,” Hoffman said of her daughter Alma, 8, and her son Svante, 12.

“They didn't think that we were going to find him and they've been very excited about all the interviews. My little daughter Anna did an interview with a children's newspaper in Norway today, and the boy did an interview with a newspaper here where we live.”

Brunbäck Larsen claims that he still likes trampolining.