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Canadian man friended by thousands from 4,800 messages in a bottle

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A Canadian man has tossed more than 4,800 messages in a bottle into the Atlantic Ocean in the past 15 years — and received more than 3,100 replies.

Harold Hackett, who lives in Tignish, Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada that hugs the Atlantic coastline, told his story to the BBC.

He uses discarded juice containers to hold his letters, dates each one and asks the finder of the bottle to respond.

And they have, in droves, in what the BBC describes as the "oldest form of social networking."

He started the hobby in May 1996 and since has received responses from Russia, Iceland, Holland, the U.K., Florida and even Africa and the Bahamas, wherever the wind and tide go.

"I never dreamt I'd get that many back that quick," Hackett said, emphasizing that the responders have become more than one-time pen pals.

"I usually get about a 150 Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, souvenirs," Hacket said in a video posted on the BBC website. "I just love doing it the old way. The reason I won't put my phone number on my letters is they'd all call me back, and I wouldn't get any letters."

"Harold the bottle man" has become somewhat of a living legend, according to The Guardian, a Prince Edward Island newspaper. The 58-year-old has a display of some of the letters he's received at the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum in the nearby tourist town of Cavendish.

Hackett said he sends as many as 200 bottles off every week. He doesn't think he'll ever stop.