From human feet to giant eyeballs here are 10 of the most unbelievable items that have washed ashore.
- San Francisco Tombstones
It’s not unusual to find objects that have washed up on beaches, but residents of San Francisco were in for a surprise in 2012 when some particularly somber items started appearing. Local residents started finding tombstones in the sand of people that had died in the 1800’s. First there was one from 1876, then one from 1890, and they kept on showing up. While this may seem like a dark secret coming to light, the explanation for all of this was far more simple. The reason it had been happening was to do with construction works that had been done to help protect the beaches. The area had formerly been used as a graveyard, but the bodies had long been moved inland. The stones, on the other hand, proved too costly to be moved and were, instead, re-purposed. They were used as breakwaters, gutter liners and to construct a seawall, and it appears as if it is some of these had broken loose and washed up on the beach.
- Severed Feet
Since 2007 beaches and islands on the coast of British Columbia in Canada and Washington state in America have seen a particularly gruesome series of objects washing up on them- human feet that, in most cases, are still in their shoes. In total, 16 feet have been found. Disturbingly only two of these were left feet, which were matched with right feet that also washed up, meaning that the rest must have come from at least 14 different people. It’s completely unknown how these feet arrived on these beaches. Only four people have been identified as their owners, but there are plenty of suggestions of how such a thing might happen. The strange thing here is that only feet have been found, and no bodies. Some people suspect foul play by gangsters, others think they have come from the victims of a plane crash near the area in 2005, and some have suggested they may actually have come from victims of the Asian tsunami in 2004. All of them have been found within shoes that would provide enough buoyancy for them to be carried by currents across the ocean, so it is completely feasible. The true origin of the feet might be a bit closer to home, though. One of those that were found have been linked to a man who is thought to have committed suicide, and two of the feet have been identified as being from a woman who jumped from the Pattullo Bridge in 2004. It’s quite possible, therefore, that these feet have all come from people who suffered similar fates in the surrounding area.
As one of the grossest objects you could ever find on the beach, Ambergris is probably the one from this list that you’d most hope to find, because it turns out that this stuff is incredibly valuable. This substance is made when sperm whales eject an intestinal slurry into the ocean. From here it floats and bobs in the waves and, years later, washes up. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was an uninteresting object amongst the rocks, sand and shells that you normally find. It can be found in many forms such as large blocks, balls, egg shapes, jagged pieces or hard rolls, and has a unique smell that purportedly has notes of seaweed, farm animals and maybe a fecal note. Lumps that have been in the ocean for a long time, though, will have a sweeter, earthy scent to them. This smell, rarity, and the unique chemical properties that Ambergris has, is the reason behind its high value. It was, for a long time, a key ingredient for high-end perfume makers like Chanel and Lanvin because of its ability to fix the scent to human skin. While alternatives have been found in recent times, it is still a highly sought after substance— a 1.1 Kilogram lump that was found in Wales in 2015 sold for £11,000 (around $13,400) at auction later that year.
- WWII Bombs
Despite having come to an end more than 70 years ago, the consequences of the Second World War can still be seen around the world when some of the many bombs that were unaccounted for wash ashore. They can come in all different shapes and sizes, are often mistaken for other things by beach goers and most worryingly, are still active and able to explode. No-one knows for sure how many there are out there waiting to be washed up, but to give you an idea, there are an estimated 1.6 million metric tons of conventional and chemical ammunitions lying on the seabed just in German waters alone. This is made up of over one million items, including grenades, detonators, giant aerial bombs, 15-kilo shells and many more. This is just a fraction of what’s on the sea-beds of the world in total. With the way ocean currents carry objects around, there is the potential for these items to show up virtually anywhere. It is not uncommon for objects like these to wash up on European beaches. There are many examples of bombs showing up on French and British coastlines, but in 2015 there was even one that washed up further afield in Florida. This revealed another worrying detail- that following WWII, the US government found itself with a large number of unused weapons. Rather than de-commissioning them they chose, instead, to dump them all in the Gulf of Mexico, so next time you’re at the beach keep a watch out.
- Giant Eyeball in Florida
In 2012 a beach-comber came in for a surprise when he found something staring back at him from the sand of Pompano beach in Florida. After digging the strange lump out and cleaning it off, it turned out he was holding a blue-tinged softball sized eyeball. He had never seen anything quite like it, obviously, and, super excited he waved down police officers to show it to them and eventually started contacting researchers across the state to try and identify it. Everyone was stumped, and couldn’t agree which monster of the deep it had come from. After deliberating between being from a squid or a fish, it was determined a few days later that this eye had, in fact, come from a giant swordfish.