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Naples 11th-grader is a celebrity - in Spain

Residents of a small Spanish village recently found a message in a bottle sent to sea three years ago from the teen.

By ASSOCIATED PRSS
Published September 25, 2006


NAPLES, Fla. - In a small beach village near Malpica, Spain, Gulf Coast High School 11th-grader Dennis Davis has reached celebrity status.

And he's never even been there.

Near Malpica, in an area known as la Costa da Morte, or Coast of Death, 13-year-old Julin Otero Surez learned about Dennis' favorite sports, his likes and dislikes and where he's from when his father, Desiderio Otero Pose, found a 3-year-old glass bottle containing a message from the Naples boy washed up on the beach.

Now, thanks to an article published in a Spanish newspaper Aug. 26, the whole town knows more about the American who lives more than 4,000 miles away than he knows about them.

Dennis, 16, would like to read the Spanish article that features him. But before he can understand it, the teen needs to finish the Spanish I class he's enrolled in this year.

"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."

The "Message in a Bottle" project was the brainchild of former Oak Ridge Middle School biology teacher Carie Jarnot.

Jarnot, who now works at North Naples Middle School, said she and fellow teacher Scott Barham created the project to teach students about the current flow of the Gulf Stream as it comes past Florida, up and over the Atlantic Ocean and, eventually, into the Arctic Ocean.

In November 2003, Jarnot and Barham had their students bring glass bottles with cork tops to class. On one side of a paper, the teachers wrote a note about themselves, with contact information. On the other side, students wrote things about themselves, including their ages, where they went to school and what their lives in Naples were like.

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 she and Barham have received dozens of responses from those who have found bottles, mostly in the Bahamas. Jarnot said the bottles often get caught in the local currents in Bimini, Freeport, Grand Bahama and other islands.

Dennis' bottle was the first known 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, Cindy Davis, said their family only discussed the class project once after the bottle's launch.

"One time we watched that Kevin Costner movie, Message in a Bottle, and we wondered what happened to Denny's bottle," she said. "Next time I go out on a boat, I think I'll put a message in a bottle, too."

Dennis said he hasn't had any contact with the Spanish boy who found his bottle yet, because, since the eighth grade, Dennis has changed e-mail addresses. Dennis's father, also named Dennis Davis, said he will send the Naples Daily News article to Spain, just as Julin's family sent the Spanish article to them.

"I'm very proud that Dennis did the project and actually got to see results from it," the elder Dennis Davis said. "I think it's great that he got a reply, and I think he owes this kid a reply in return."

Though the project results did little to fan Dennis's passion for biology, the teen said he has enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.

"This is just another thing I'll always remember," he said.

"It's always going to be a story I can tell."

[Last modified September 25, 2006, 01:00:37]


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