BBC News recently reported on a pretty rad story out of Cornwall, UK. Way back in 1997 a shipping container carrying 4.8 million Lego pieces fell into the sea, roughly 20 miles from Land’s End. 17 years later the tide is still washing loads of Lego onto beaches around Cornwall. There have also been discoveries of Lego in Devon, Ireland and Wales.
The container ship carrying the Lego, the Tokio Express, “was hit by a wave described by its captain as a ‘once in a 100-year phenomenon,’ tilting the ship 60 degrees one way, then 40 degrees back.” Ironically, many of the Lego pieces were nautical-themed, from the Aquazone line. For years, children and adults have been combing the Cornwall coasts in search of the little plastic bricks. Local Tracey Williams has even created a Facebook page that chronicles her findings, it’s super-cutely called “Lego Lost at Sea.”
Since 1997, those pieces could have drifted 62,000 miles, he says. It's 24,000 miles around the equator, meaning they could be on any beach on earth. Theoretically, the pieces of Lego could keep going around the ocean for centuries.
The Lego Lost At Sea facebook page was created by British writer and intrepdi beachcomber, Tracey Williams, "who first started to discover pieces of sea themed Lego on beaches around her family home in South Devon, England in the late 1990s." Currently, she lives in Cornwall, "near where the shipwrecked Lego still washes up daily." Tracey is also invovled in the beach-cleaning group Newquay Beach Care.
These Lego dragons are just two of 33,941 Lego dragons. They washed up in Bigbury on Sea, South Devon, England in the late-90s.
This epic Lego shipwreck is also providing a lot of insight into the movement of ocean currents and the tides.
"The most profound lesson I've learned from the Lego story is that things that go to the bottom of the sea don't always stay there. Tracking currents is like tracking ghosts - you can't see them. You can only see where flotsam started and where it ended up.” -US oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer
Williams even wonders whether the "Lego armada" could have even been swept as far as Australia:
Patricia sent us this picture of a Lego flipper she found washed up in Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne sometime in the last five years. We don't know for certain whether this is from the Tokio Express or not but according to oceanographer Dr Curtis Ebbesmeyer 'it's possible that after 17 years, a Lego flipper could have made it to Australia'.
According to the Beachcombers’ Alert, (2,2 1997) “The Lost Lego Pieces Cargo included:”
Toy kits - Divers, Aquazone, Aquanauts, Police, FrightKnights, WildWest, RoboForce TimeCruisers, Outback, Pirates
Spear guns (red and yellow) - 13,000 items
Black octopus - 4,200
Yellow life preserver - 26,600
Diver flippers (in pairs: black, blue, red) - 418,000
Dragons (black and green) - 33,941
Brown ship rigging net - 26,400
Daisy flowers (in fours - white, red, yellow) - 353,264
Scuba and breathing apparatus (grey) - 97,500
Total of 4,756,940 Lego pieces lost overboard in a single container
Estimated 3,178,807 may be light enough to have floated
Here's Williams' Lego ID guide for the pieces she's found thus far:
While it’s pretty cool that there’s tons of Lego washing up on beaches to the delight of children and adults who love finding little plastic treasure, there are some major environmental concerns with over 4 million pieces of plastic floating around the ocean and washing ashore.
Read more on BBC News.