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Have you ever found a message in a bottle and wondered where it came from? Questioned its meaning and wondered what happened to the sender?

Discovered by 2013 CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke and his non-profit, Living Lands & Waters, the Message in a Bottle exhibition displays over 50 notes and bottles depicting the personal voices of everyday Americans found while cleaning up the country’s rivers.

Come and wander through the collection and rediscover lost history in specially crafted boxes housing the bottles and their messaging.

Member Preview:

– January 29, 2022 from 9 AM – 11 AM
– FREE for Nauticus Members

Message in a Bottle

Ticket Details:

– FREE for Nauticus Members – Included in General Admission Ticket ($15.95/adult* & $11.50/child* *plus tax)

Chad Pregracke

Meet Chad Pregracke

The Mississippi River was literally Chad Pregracke’s back yard while growing up near East Moline, IL. Chad and his older brother, Brent, spent the majority of their time on, in and around the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. During his summer breaks, Chad worked on the river–primarily as a commercial shell diver for the cultured pearl industry but also as a commercial fisherman and barge hand. Typically working miles away from home, he camped on the islands and shorelines of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers to save money and fuel. It was during this time that Chad began to realize how neglected the rivers were, with the unsightly and toxic accumulation of trash along their banks.

What Started as “One River, One Piece of Garbage at a Time” Turned Into Living Lands & Waters Full Time

At the age of 17, Chad started making calls to government agencies to notify them of the problem, assuming someone would take care of it. Year after year passed by and the problem only worsened. In 1997 Chad decided that if no one else was going to clean up the river, he would. In 1998 at the age of 23, Chad founded Living Lands & Waters. Chad’s vision, charisma, non-stop work ethic and natural leadership have garnered him an abundance of awards and honors over the years. Most notably, Chad was the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, America’s version of the Nobel Prize, in June 2002. Chad accepted this award in the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. with other award recipients: Rudolph Giuliani, Bill and Melinda Gates and Lilly Tartikoff. In 2013, he was named CNN Hero of the Year. Chad is also the author of From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers.

What Youll Discover

Throughout history, the Message in a Bottle phenomenon makes many appearances: Greek water current studies, Japanese epics, Poe, Dickens, and rock band, The Police. This exhibit continues the tradition, capturing the zeitgeist of the Message in a Bottle through American eyes.

Message in a Bottle Note 3
Message in a Bottle Note 2
Message in a Bottle Note
Living Lands and Water

Pregracke established Living Lands & Waters, a 501 (c)(3) environmental organization, in 1998. Since the organization was founded, Living Lands & Waters has grown to be the only “industrial strength” river cleanup organization like it in the world.

Spending up to nine months a year living and traveling on the barge, the Living Lands & Waters crew hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts.

Living Lands and Water Cleanup Group

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Waters

Discover how Living Lands & Waters aids in the protection, preservation, and restoration of the natural environment of the nations’ major rivers and their watersheds through river cleanups and environmental conservation programs.

Pounds of
Trash Removed

 

11,409,108

Volunteers
Involved

 

120,097

Students
Educated

 

11,386

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Waters

Trees
Planted

 

1,631,431

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Waters

Pregracke established Living Lands & Waters, a 501 (c)(3) environmental organization, in 1998. Since the organization was founded, Living Lands & Waters has grown to be the only “industrial strength” river cleanup organization like it in the world.

Spending up to nine months a year living and traveling on the barge, the Living Lands & Waters crew hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts.

Living Lands and Water Cleanup Group

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Waters

Discover how Living Lands & Waters aids in the protection, preservation, and restoration of the natural environment of the nations’ major rivers and their watersheds through river cleanups and environmental conservation programs.

Pounds of
Trash Removed

 

11,409,108

Volunteers
Involved

 

120,097

Students
Educated

 

11,386

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Water

Trees
Planted

 

1,631,431

Photo Credit: Living Lands & Waters

Exhibition Events, Activities & Virtual Programs

Join the Nauticus team for special events, virtual programs and activities within the Message in a Bottle exhibition that are included with general admission/membership.

January Schedule

January 29 – Member Preview from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

January 29 – Opening Day 

  • Bottle Breakdown: While exploring the Message in a Bottle exhibit, use our interactive augmented reality (AR) app to investigate the differences between glass and plastic bottles. Explore how the materials break down differently and which ones held longer-lasting messages.

  • A Day in the Life of a Royal Un-Corker: Uncover messages drafted by fellow Nauticus guests set adrift in our ROV tank. Create your own message in a bottle for other Nauticus guests to enjoy.

  • SOS: Rivers, Currents, and the Climate: Follow the Mighty Mississippi River as it flows into the warm Gulf Stream current along the U.S. coast bringing along with it marine debris. View how scientists study these current models to discover and clean up garbage patches in our oceans.

  • Communicating on the Seas: Explore the different forms of communication that were used on ships like the Wisconsin before technological updates or during times of radio silence. Visitors will be able to learn about signal flags and even create and decode their own messages as well as learn about signal lights and Morse code.

Activities

Enjoy Special Programming!

  • Bottle Breakdown: While exploring the Message in a Bottle exhibit, use our interactive augmented reality (AR) app to investigate the differences between glass and plastic bottles. Explore how the materials break down differently and which ones held longer-lasting messages.
  • A Day in the Life of a Royal Un-Corker: Uncover messages drafted by fellow Nauticus guests set adrift in our ROV tank. Create your own message in a bottle for other Nauticus guests to enjoy.
  • SOS: Rivers, Currents, and the Climate: Follow the Mighty Mississippi River as it flows into the warm Gulf Stream current along the U.S. coast bringing along with it marine debris. View how scientists study these current models to discover and clean up garbage patches in our oceans.
  • Communicating on the Seas: Explore the different forms of communication that were used on ships like the Wisconsin before technological updates or during times of radio silence. Visitors will be able to learn about signal flags and even create and decode their own messages as well as learn about signal lights and Morse code.
  • Messages in a Battleship: Experience a window into the past by reading some notes and letters that were found on the Battleship Wisconsin as it was being prepared to become the floating museum it is now. These letters were created by sailors who missed their home and loved ones and didn’t have the luxury of instant communication like email or calling. The notes span from the mundane to the exciting and allows for a snapshot of what daily life on the Battleship was really like.
  • Talking Trash and Marine Debris: Message in a Bottle features bottles found during clean-ups hosted by the Living Lands and Waters environmental organization that works to educate people about marine debris and plastic pollution. Discover how the Navy is working to lessen their impact on the ocean and how laws have changed the way they handle waste. See our SeaBins that capture and remove debris from the Elizabeth River before it makes its way into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Current Events: Explore how ocean currents are created when warm water and cold water collide. These currents are the basis of life in the ocean but can also lead to damaging garbage patches. In this experiment, we’ll demonstrate how currents are created and how they move nutrients (and garbage) around the world.
  • Message in a Bottle Exhibit- The Bottle Breakdown: While exploring the Message in a Bottle exhibit, use our interactive AR (augmented reality) app to investigate the differences between glass and plastic bottles. Explore how the materials break down differently and which ones held longer-lasting messages.
  • The YAC Action Heroes: Our Youth Action Council hosted 2 clean-up events around the Nauticus campus this year where they removed 50+ lbs of trash! Check out their interesting finds and how you can get involved in future clean- ups!
  • Where’s Your Watershed?: Find your watershed address and investigate how watersheds work using our Enviroscape model. Explore simple actions you can take everyday to keep your watershed a healthy one.

Nauticus members are invited to an exclusive preview event on
January 29, 2022, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.!