Plastic Garfield phones have been washing up along the French coast for over 3 decades with no explanation, until now.
The mysterious cat headsets have perplexed the local communities and environmentalists since the 1980s.
“Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost every time we clean,” Claire Simonin, the head of beach cleaning group Ar Viltansou, told the AFP news agency.
But after a French paper wrote about the strange feline phenomenon, a local resident came forward to reveal a 20-year old secret.
“Our association has existed for 18 years and in that time we have found pieces of Garfield telephones almost every time we clean,”
Rene Morvan and his brother went to the beach during a large storm two decades ago and found the phones blanketing the coast, according to franceinfo. They returned to the beach when it was low tide to enter into surrounding cliffs and find out where the cat trinkets were coming from.
“We found a container that was stranded in a fault, it was open, a lot of things were gone but there was a stock of phones,” Morvan said.
He justified not sharing his knowledge with the community by only saying: “At the time, there was a lot of things that came to us from the sea.”
Once learning of their whereabouts, Simonin ventured out and recovered an additional 23 Garfield headsets, on top of collecting over 200 plastic pieces and wires over the last few decades.
For the Ar Viltansou cleaning group, the discovery is bittersweet. The brightly orange colored cats have proven to be an environmental nightmare and they see the local ecosystem has been affected, thanks to the pollution the spillage has created.
Fabien Boileau, the director of the Ironise Marine Nature Park, said: “We will still go there to recover the remains of phones. It will always be less plastic and electronics in the sea. But I have little hope that we will be very effective."
There still remains a bit of mystery because no one has been able to determine how the shipping container ended up along the coast of France.
“We have no idea what happened at the time: we do not know where it came from, what boat,” Fabien Boileau, the director of the Ironise Marine Nature Park, told AFP.
The phones are still popular among collectors and are being sold for around $40.00 each on eBay.