Creepy, nightmarish-looking dolls sometimes covered in barnacles that grow out of the eyes are washing up along Texas shores, according to researchers who survey the area for sea life.
Where the dolls came from is a mystery but the Mission-Aransas Reserve has been collecting the scary figures as they find them along a 40-mile stretch of coastline, Jace Tunnell, director of the Mission Aransas Reserve at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Often, researchers are surveying the coast for sea turtles and other marine mammals when they encounter the dolls on the beach.
"We’re actually doing scientific work, but the dolls are a perk," Tunnell told McClatchy News last week.
Researchers comb the coastline – from North Padre Island up to Matagorda -- twice per week, collecting debris of all kinds, including junk, in the process.
"You never know what you’re going to find washing in. About twice a month we find these crazy-looking dolls that are washing in," Tunnell said.
So far, the Reserve has collected about 30 dolls, Tunnell said in a Facebook video in October. Some are missing arms or legs and others have algae growing inside the eyes and mouth as well as barnacles. Some have clearly been chewed on.
An image of each one gets posted on the group's Facebook page, which has generated a substantial following since.
The first figure discovered by researchers was a sex doll. When Tunnell posted the image online, someone bought its head for $35, he said. The funds were donated to a sea turtle program.
Tunnel sells the dolls at a yearly fundraising auction. He's not sure what the people who purchase the dolls do with them, he said.
"There’s a lot of nightmares out there," he told the newspaper, referring to the debris.