Thursday 20 October 2016

30 weirdest things that have washed up on beaches around the world

Bombs, shoes, Doritos... it's quite a list

Published 15/05/2015 | 06:35

Terschelling, NETHERLANDS: People walk on the Dutch island of Terschelling after thousands of shoes washed on the beach in 2006. Photo: Arie Ouwerkerk/AFP/Getty Images
Terschelling, NETHERLANDS: People walk on the Dutch island of Terschelling after thousands of shoes washed on the beach in 2006. Photo: Arie Ouwerkerk/AFP/Getty Images
Message in a bottle... just the beginning of the mysteries that have washed up on the world's beaches.
Heavy machinery moves shipping containers that have come ashore on Waihi beach in the Bay of Plenty on January 9, 2012 a day after the cargo ship Rena broke up in a storm. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images
Surfing in Cornwall
Glass Beach in MacKerricher State Park (California, USA)

Think beaches, and sun escapes spring to mind. But holidaymakers aren't the only things to wash up on sandy shores.

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The ocean covers almost three quarters of the Earth’s surface, and it's got no shortage of strange objects bobbing their way towards our beaches.

UK logistics company, Barrington Freight, has been researching the weirdest and most wonderful things that have made it ashore. Here's their Top 30:

Shoe collectors

Terschelling in the Netherlands has a long history of goods washing ashore, and many local houses are built from driftwood and wrecks. Half a million shoes washed up in 2006 (pictured above), after a container ship lost its load.

Happy hour

In 1941, the SS Politician was wrecked off the coast of Eriskay while carrying 28,000 cases of malt whisky. Locals rushed to salvage the cargo, making off with 24,000 bottles before customs officials sank the hull.

Return to sender

A parcel of 57 letters, sent from a woman to her boyfriend during WWII, was found on a New Jersey beach after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The finder tracked down the woman, and returned the letters to her.

Bombs away!

A U.S. Navy training mine was discovered on Miami beach in 2011, and swiftly removed by an expert bomb squad. Worryingly, authorities still don't know where the 6ft long bomb came from.

Animal attractions

Thousands of plastic beavers, frogs, turtles, and ducks fell off a ship in 1992. They have travelled up to 17,000 miles, been frozen in Arctic ice, and are used by oceanographers to map ocean currents.

Glass is permanent

Fort Bragg's Glass Beach is covered in 'sea glass' - shards of glass which were originally dumped there in the 1960s as rubbish, and have since been turned into smooth fragments by the pounding waves.

Glass Beach in MacKerricher State Park (California, USA)

Just do it!

Marine scientists also track 60,000 Nike shoes, which were lost at sea during a hurricane in 1990. Trainers can float for ten years, and remnants from the shipment have washed up around the world.

Eyes front...

A colossal eyeball the size of a grapefruit was found on a Florida beach in 2012, baffling scientists and sending the internet into a frenzy. It's now believed the body part came from a swordfish.

Bone collectors

During a game of beach cricket in 2011, a group of Cornish holidaymakers discovered their makeshift 'driftwood' cricket bat was actually the 300-year-old leg bone of a long-dead shipwrecked sailor.

Tidal waves

The 2011 Japanese tsunami swept 20 million tonnes of material into the sea. A 66ft-long concrete dock from Misawa drifted all the way to Oregon - with two other docks from the town still missing.

Tokyo drifters

A Harley-Davidson motorbike also survived the Japanese tsunami, travelling 4,000 miles to Canada in a large white container. The owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, was tracked down through the number plate.

Lego moving

Almost 5 million Lego pieces fell from a ship off Land's End in 1997. Thousands of tiny figures have been found on the beaches of Devon and Cornwall since, and some people are avid collectors.

Surfing in Cornwall? watch out for the Lego!

Read more: Cornwall: Eat, surf and play in England's sunny southwest

Mystery whale

A large white 'globster' - a blob with five misshapen limbs - was discovered in Mangrove Bay in 1988. Scientists at the time were bemused, although it has since been genetically identified as a whale.

Puck's sake...

Alaskan hockey fans were given an unexpected gift in the early 90s. Two containers fell from a cargo ship in the Pacific, eventually depositing some 34,000 hockey gloves and shin guards on the shore.

On the fly

The same Alaskan beaches were inundated with plastic fly swats in 2012. Originally thought to be debris from the Japanese tsunami, they were eventually traced back to a Chinese container ship.

Tea party

Nine containers of tea went overboard off the coast of India in 2010. When the packets were recovered by locals, they were covered with oil from the stricken ship - making them undrinkable.

Bombs on the beach

The 2011 'supermoon' caused high tides across the world. One of these supermoon-fuelled tides washed up 100 live WWII bombs onto a Hampshire beach, where they were detonated by the Navy.

40-foot fender

A vast rubber Yokohama fender - designed to prevent ships from bumping into docks - came to shore on Thornham beach. Mysteriously, nobody had reported the huge 40ft structure as missing.

Message in a bottle

Japanese sailor Chunosuke Matsuyama was shipwrecked on a Pacific island in 1784. Before he died, he wrote a message in a bottle. This washed up 151 years later - in the village where he was born.

Message in a bottle... what mystery lies within?

Breakfast on the beach

Terschelling hit the headlines again in 2007, when another ship lost several containers. Residents woke up to find their beaches littered with thousands of bananas - most of them safe to eat.

Puke perfume

A lucky dog walker found a 6lb lump of ambergris - also known as whale vomit - on a Lancashire beach in 2013. This pungent substance is used to make perfume, and was worth up to £100,000.

Drugs don't work

Drug smugglers go to extreme lengths to move their wares across borders. Six bags of cocaine - worth around €62 million - were found by a pensioner on a Japanese beach in 2013.

Freaky creatures

When an unidentified corpse washed up on a Long Island beach, authorities said the creature was a raccoon. However, some locals believe it was an escaped hybrid from the Animal Disease Centre.

Confusing crabs

Millions of pea-sized purple creatures came ashore on the shores of Hawaii, confusing scientists. They were later identified as young crab larvae, unable to dive due to air bubbles in their shells.

Travelling tombstones

Two tombstones from the 1800s washed up on a San Francisco beach. The mystery was eventually solved - they were repurposed to make a nearby sea wall in the 1940s, and were washed loose.

Cold feet

Since 2007, more than a dozen severed human feet have been discovered on the shores of British Columbia. Detectives still don't know who most of them belong to, or why they keep washing up.


Shipping containers often sink when they fall overboard. However, polystyrene packing can make them float - which explains why four containers arrived intact on a New Zealand beach in 2011.

beach containers.jpg
Containers wash up on a New Zealand beach, 2012

Biscuits in Blackpool

Blackpool is famous for its tower and illuminations. In 2008 it made headlines for a different reason, when thousands of McVitie’s biscuits fell off a nearby ferry and washed up on the resort's beaches.

No smoking, please!

When £3million worth of cigarettes began washing up on UK beaches, scores of people tried to save them. However, HMRC had other ideas, and promptly burned the packets to produce electricity.

Crisps in North Carolina

When packets of Doritos began appearing on a North Carolina beach, people rushed to the area. The hungry beachcombers were rewarded, as many of the sealed packets were perfectly safe to eat.

For more on Barrington Freight, see their website here.

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