Strangest Things That Have Washed Ashore

LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman

LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman by Chris Christian (CC BY-NC)

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LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman
LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman by Chris Christian (CC BY-NC)

All Ashore

The ocean is full of mystery, not all of it marine in nature. Given the right conditions, some of that mystery washes ashore at random times, bewildering beachcombers, locals, and vacationers alike. The latest: A very large metal cylinder of unknown origin found on an Australian beach. And that's maybe the least of the weirdness. From strange sea creatures to macabre discoveries, here's what our seas have coughed up through the years.


Mystery Space Cylinder
Australian Space Agency

Possible 'Space Debris'

A big metal cylinder has been the subject speculation and curiosity since it washed up at a beach at Green Head on Australia's western coast. Initially cordoned off by authorities, the  human-sized object has been deemed harmless to the public and been removed, according to CNN. Police and Australia's space agency believe the copper-colored cylinder to be part of a foreign space-launch vehicle.  

Sea Monster
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Lake Michigan 'Sea Monster'

A large, scary-looking creature recently washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan, prompting speculation on Twitter about just what it could possibly be. With its half-fish, half-snake-like body, commenters were convinced it must be a mythological sea serpent, or even ... a merman? Alas, the mystery was solved when the creature was determined to be a rather unusual fish called a burbot. These obscure fish have eel-like bodies and can grow to up to 60 pounds but are rarely seen; they prefer to be at the bottom of the lake. 

Reza Baluchi washed ashore in "hydro pod"
Flagler County Sheriff's Office

A Man in a 'Hamster Wheel'

Beachgoers in St. Augustine, Florida, were astounded to see what looked like a huge hamster wheel — with 49-year-old Reza Baluchi inside — wash ashore July 25, 2021. Baluchi, an ultramarathoner who has staged numerous running and endurance events for charity, was attempting to travel from Florida to New York City while walking in a self-designed "hydro pod." Unfortunately, the 1,000-mile journey ended after just 25 miles. Baluchi told The New York Times that he aborted the attempt after discovering that critical safety gear was missing. 

Whale Shark
Keystone / Staff / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Whale Shark

Marine life washing up on shore isn't all that unusual. But something as massive as this 30-foot whale shark, which was beached on Australia's Bare Island in Botany Bay in 1965, is still fairly rare. Despite efforts to save it — by the very same folks who hounded it ashore — the creature died. 

Giant Squid
Handout / Handout / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Giant Squid

In early 2005, more than 1,500 giant squid — each around 3 to 4 feet in length — washed ashore, most in Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Crystal Cove State Park in California. Scientists at the time were unclear on what caused the strange occurrence, theorizing that it could have been due to food sources or weather and climate shifts. 

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Sea Monster
Bettmann / Contributor/ Bettmann / Getty Images

Massachusetts 'Sea Monster'

In this 1970 photo, local residents of Scituate, Massachusetts, gawk at an unidentified 15- to 20-ton sea creature that washed ashore on Mann Hill Beach. Described at the time as a "camel without legs," the animal was later identified as a basking shark that likely died at sea and was partially eaten before drifting ashore. 

Related: Vintage Beach Photos From Summers Past

LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman
LEGO Batman Movie Collectible Minifigures : Vacation Batman by Chris Christian (CC BY-NC)

Lego Pieces

In 1997, a storm caused a Tokyo Express container ship to inadvertently dump 62 containers into the ocean. One of these carried more than 4.8 million Lego pieces. Nearly 25 years later, pieces are still washing ashore in southwest England along Cornish coastlines, and members of the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, an organization that works to reduce marine plastic pollution, are still cleaning them up.

Related: 31 Products to Help You Use Less Plastic

Harley Davidson Museum
Harley Davidson Museum by Sean Kimmel (CC BY-NC-ND)

Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

In 2012, the remains of a 2004 Harley-Davidson Night Train was found washed ashore on a British Columbia beach, inside a shipping container. It was eventually traced back to owner Ikuo Yokoyama, who lost it after the tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011. The bike had traveled more than 4,000 miles before it ended up on Graham Island. Yokoyama gave the bike to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, where it has been on display ever since.

Giant Eyeball
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Giant Eyeball

In 2012, a giant eyeball — about the size of a grapefruit — washed up on Florida's Pompano Beach. A beachcomber found it and turned it over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who then sent it to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. Genetic testing eventually revealed the eyeball belonged to Poseidon. We're kidding — it came from a swordfish.

Rubber Ducky on beach
Geraint Rowland Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Rubber Duckies

About five years before plastic Lego pieces filled the sea around Cornish beaches, a shipping crate filled with 28,000 rubber duckies fell overboard on a ship traveling from Hong Kong to the U.S. Since that accident, the ducks have washed ashore in Hawaii, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, South America, Australia, Scotland, Newfoundland, and have even been found encased in Arctic ice.

World War II Bomb
leospek / istockphoto / Getty Images Plus

World War II Bombs

A combination of natural phenomena — severely low tides and high atmospheric pressure — caused 87 World War II bombs to wash ashore along England's Calshot Beach in the early spring of 2011. Afterward, a disposal team from the Royal Navy spent days detonating the bombs in controlled explosions. Interestingly, in October 2020, a live WWII aerial bomb also washed ashore in Buxton, North Carolina. 

Ambergris from the North Sea
Ambergris from the North Sea by Ecomare (CC BY-SA)

Whale Vomit

If you stumbled upon a smelly huge chunk of whale vomit — also called ambergris, it looks much like a rock — you might not consider it a stroke of luck. But think again. In a few documented cases over the last few years, those who have been astute enough to realize they chanced upon something unusual also profited from it. Ambergris, which is used to formulate luxury fragrances, can usually be sold at a very high price. For instance, a group of Omani fishermen found a 176-pound chunk of the stuff in 2016, which was eventually valued at nearly $3 million. 

Related: 25 Unusual and Rare Items That Sold at Auction for Serious Money

A Dead 'Body'
Ocean Hour

A Dead 'Body'

In November of last year, a volunteer for Florida conservation non-profit Ocean Hour made what she thought was a horrifying discovery: a decapitated body. Another bystander called 911 before the volunteer took a closer look and realized the "body" was actually a mannequin covered in barnacles and sea life. Ocean Hour's Facebook post about the discovery was eventually shared by nearly 3,500 people and picked up by the U.S. and international media

Brain by Michael Horton (CC BY-ND)

A Brain

In late 2020, a Wisconsin artist was walking along the beach searching for objects to include in his work when he came upon something wrapped in tin foil. “Curiosity got to me, so I popped it open and it looked like a chicken breast,” Senda told a local TV news station. “It took a little bit for it to really [register] of what was going on: It was a brain.” Also included in the package, wrapped with a pink rubber band, were flowers and some Chinese money. The Racine County Medical Examiner's office eventually confirmed the brain wasn't human.

Shoe on beach
surasit bunnet/istockphoto

Severed Feet

If only all stories of body parts washing up on shore ended with the news that mannequins or animals were involved. Not the case here. In fact, since the summer of 2007, 21 feet, many still encased in shoes, have washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, with the only consistency among them being that none of the appendages were forcibly severed from the bodies they came from. The mystery may have been solved. Police have been able to connect the feet to various suicides and accident victims. The reason the feet are still in the shoes apparently has to do with how sea scavengers attack dead bodies and the buoyancy of modern shoes.  

Beach wreckage
Peter Macdiarmid / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Incontinence Pads

In October 2020, 11 shipping containers of incontinence pads washed ashore or were found drifting near Devon, England, after falling off a ship. If you're getting the notion that spilled shipping containers contribute to a lot of marine pollution, you're not wrong — between 2008 and 2019, anywhere from around 500 to more than 5,000 shipping containers were lost at sea each year. 

Mark Renders / Stringer / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Tons of Cocaine

Given everything we know after watching "Narcos" on Netflix, we're not that surprised that cocaine occasionally floats ashore in the U.S. — it's the sheer volume of cocaine that is baffling. For instance, in 2020 alone, there were reports of a combined 150 pounds of cocaine washing ashore in Broward County and Palm Beach, Florida, and a ghost ship carrying 1,400 pounds of cocaine washed ashore in the Marshall Islands. Those numbers even seem small when you consider that legal resources site noted that, on Florida's Broward and Dade county beaches alone, "70,000 pounds were found in 2009, 39,000 in 2011, (and) 78,000 pounds in 2012." Someone cue Eric Clapton. 

Seized marijuana
Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images News / Getty Images

90 Pounds of Pot

Move aside coke, here comes the marijuana. In May of 2020, a nearly 100-pound blue barrel containing five trash bags full of pot washed ashore on a Marathon beach in the Florida Keys. Just a few months later in October, two separate parcels of marijuana — one weighing 8 pounds and the other 23 — were also found in Key Largo and Big Pine Key, respectively.

Hand with rings


In the last quarter of 2020, gold jewelry, ornaments, medallions, and nuggets began to wash ashore in the fishing village of Guaca, Venezuela. While its origins will likely never be known, it was a much-needed bounty for locals, many of whom sold their finds to buy food during a time when the country's economy has been in crisis since 2014. 

Bags of Chia Seeds
Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Bags of Chia Seeds

In December of 2020, multiple bags of chia seeds washed ashore in Florence and Newport, Oregon, along with a chunk of a shipping container that they likely came from. One local official noted that the seeds, which expand when they come into contact with water, were too heavy to move by hand. "We had to cut them up to remove them, or use equipment to haul them out,” ranger Jason Hennessey told a local news outlet

Intact Whale Backbone
David Hecker / Stringer / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Intact Whale Backbone

In June 2020, locals from New South Wales, Australia town of Wonboyn made quite the discovery on a nearby beach: a fully intact whale backbone measuring nearly 20 feet long. One resident who'd lived near the beach for more than 40 years noted he'd never discovered whale vertebrae of that size, adding, "You don't see that every day." 

Blue Dragons
Blue Dragons by Sylke Rohrlach (CC BY-SA)

Blue Dragons

It seems a lot of strange things were washing ashore in late 2020. Add to the list a slew of Glaucus Atlanticus, also known as the blue dragon or blue sea slug. A woman discovered some of the species on a walk along Fish Hoek Beach near Cape Town in South Africa in November. “I’ve never seen them before and I’ve lived near this beach for most of my life,” she noted to an Australian news outlet. The mythical-looking creatures, which have a potentially fatal sting, are small but striking, with brilliant blue coloring. 

A Megalodon Tooth
Mark Kostich/istockphoto

A Megalodon Tooth

There hasn't been a megalodon shark in the ocean's waters since around 3 million years ago — and it roamed the seas for around 100 million years before that — but that didn't stop a Croatian man from finding one of the massive sea creatures' teeth near the Kupa River in 2015. Other megalodon teeth have been found in a cave in Mexico, Florida, South Carolina, and Western Australia. 

Garfield Phone

Garfield Cat Phones

In the 1980s, plastic phones in the shape of popular cartoon cat Garfield started drifting ashore on the beaches of Brittany, France. For nearly 30 years, no one knew exactly what the source of the mystery was. Then, in March 2019, beach-cleaning volunteers found the answer: A shipping container filled with the phones was tucked into a nearby sea cave, previously undiscovered. 

E.T. at Madame Tussauds, London
E.T. at Madame Tussauds, London by Luke Rauscher (CC BY-SA)

E.T. (Yes, That One)

Garfield wasn't the only 1980s icon making news by washing up on a distant shore. In early 2012, a life-size model of the "E.T." movie character was found washed up near a beach off the coast of Old Portsmouth, south of London. As it turned out, the model had been stolen, along with some other items, from a woman whose daughter had handcrafted it during a stage makeup course. 

Related: Surprising Facts About America’s Beaches