The Nine Strangest Things to Wash Up on Beaches

By Todd Neikirk
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The Nine Strangest Things to Wash Up on Beaches

Todd Neikirk
 
Photo Credit: 1. Hauke-Christian Dittrich / picture alliance / Getty Images 2. Cliff / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0 (Clarity, Saturation & Contrast Increased)
Photo Credit: 1. Hauke-Christian Dittrich / picture alliance / Getty Images 2. Cliff / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0 (Clarity, Saturation & Contrast Increased)
 
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Random things are constantly washing up on the shores of the world’s coastal towns and cities. For the most part, the items are garbage, seaweed or fish carcasses, but that doesn’t mean much more interesting things haven’t appeared. The following list features just some of the strangest and most unusual things to ever wash ashore.

Balls of ice on Lake Michigan

Balls of ice scattered along the beach
During the coldest months of winter, ice balls wash up on the shores of Lake Michigan. (Photo Credit: Visviva / Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0)

During the coldest months of winter, ice balls tend to wash up on the shores of Lake Michigan. They are formed by the water after breaking off from larger ice sheets. By the time they wash ashore, they’ve become cold, spongy balls that inevitable get covered in sand.

Tar balls in Alabama and Louisiana

Fish and Wildlife Officer poking a puddle of tar with a stick
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill created tar balls that washed up on shore. (Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

People rely on oil to power their cars, and obtaining it has an affect on both the ocean and the environment. In 2010, the disastrous Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, spewing an estimated 210 million gallons of oil into the ocean.

As a result of the disaster, tar balls have been found along the shores of Alabama and Louisiana. The balls are made up of sticky oil, sand and seashells.

Amazon River Monster in Florida

Arapaima swimming in water
An Arapaima, native to the Amazon, was found in Florida in 2021. (Photo Credit: Cliff / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

The Arapaima is a fish native to the Amazon that can reach a weight of up to 440 pounds. Its meat is a popular delicacy in South America and is said to be delicious. In 2021, a dead one washed up all the way on the shores of Florida. The lone fish, known as the “Amazon River Monster,” was the only one of its kind found in Florida.

Moonfish in Oregon

Dead moonfish on a baking pan at a restaurant
A massive moonfish, native to Hawaii, was found in Oregon. (Photo Credit: Lou Stejskal / loustejskal.com / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

The moonfish is certainly a stunning species. The rounded sea creature features a beautiful array of colors and can grow up to 100 pounds. While one of them washing ashore isn’t unusual in and of itself, it is weird for one to appear on in Oregon, as they’re usually found in Hawaii.

Researchers think that it may have ended up so far north as a result of global warming.

Baby Grand Piano in Miami

Baby Grand Piano in a carpeted room
A Baby Grand Piano appeared on a shore in Miami in 2013. (Photo Credit: Pianomap / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)

A Baby Grand Piano isn’t cheap, costing anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. In 2013, one washed up in Miami, near Biscayne Bay. The instrument stood upright on a sandbar, and since it didn’t cause a navigational hazard, was not removed.

While some thought it may have been a publicity stunt, no one ever took credit.

Easter eggs on the German shore

People grabbing Easter eggs of the beach
Easter eggs washed up on the German shore in 2017. (Photo Credit: Janis Meyer / picture alliance / Getty Images)

Sometimes what washes up on shore can be fun and whimsical. That’s exactly what happened in Germany in 2017, when thousands of plastic Easter eggs washed up on Langeoog’s beaches.

While the eggs were fun, they soon became a hassle. Uwe Garrels, the Mayor of Langeoog, later said, “At first I thought this was a wonder, because everything was so colorful and so on, but then we realized that this is a huge mess in the end.”

Giant LEGO man at Brighton Beach

Giant LEGO man standing on Brighton Beach
A giant LEGO man washed up on Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach in 2008. (Photo Credit: Josh Russell / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

The things that wash up on beaches aren’t usually all that interesting, so bar workers were quite amused when, in 2008, a giant LEGO man washed ashore at Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach. There are many questions left unanswered about how it got there, but plenty of the beachgoers sure enjoyed seeing it.

World War II-era aircraft in Wales

Lockheed P-38 Lightning in flight
A World War II-era Lockheed P-38 Lightning washed up in Wales in 2007. (Photo Credit: Underwood Archives / Getty Images)

In 1942, an American pilot named Robert Elliott crashed his Lockheed P-38 Lightning near the coast of Wales. It took more than 60 years, but the World War II-era aircraft washed up along the shores there in 2007 and will remain where it appeared, after the Welsh government decided it was of historical significance and archaeological importance.

$65,000 worth of whale vomit

Ceramic bowl filled with ambergris
Ambergris, made from whale vomit, is expensive and highly sought after. (Photo Credit: Peter Kaminski / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

In 2012, a British boy named Charlie Naysmith came across a huge chunk of whale vomit. The substance, called ambergris, was actually a huge find. It’s highly sought after and is commonly used in perfume.

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The value of the chunk that Naysmith found was estimated to be worth around $65,000.

 
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