CLOSE
Tracey Williams/Lego Lost At Sea
Tracey Williams/Lego Lost At Sea

18 Years After a Spill Into the Ocean, LEGO Pieces Still Wash Ashore

Tracey Williams/Lego Lost At Sea
Tracey Williams/Lego Lost At Sea

On February 13, 1997, 20 miles off the coast of Cornwall, UK, the container ship Tokio Express was hit with a massive wave. Sixty-two of the containers it was carrying were knocked overboard. The contents of 61 of those containers are either not known or too uninteresting to be publicized—but one of them held 4.8 million LEGO pieces, which have been washing up on Cornish beaches ever since.

An issue of Beachcombers' Alert from later that same year details the breakdown (by item) of the different LEGO pieces lost; in a weird coincidence, many of them happened to be nautically themed. There were, for example, 26,600 life preservers; 418,000 diver flippers in pairs of black, blue or red; 13,000 red or yellow spear guns; and 4200 black octopuses.

Seventeen yeas after the initial spill, beach goers are still finding these now well-worn LEGO pieces, but these days they have to hunt for them. "There's stories of kids in the late 1990s having buckets of dragons on the beach, selling them," Tracey Williams told the BBC earlier this year. She runs a Facebook group that documents the discoveries of these formerly lost-at-sea LEGOs by dedicated beachcombers. Because of their initial rarity, the octopus pieces have become a prize find amongst these treasure hunters; a recent post on the Facebook page depicts the visible, visceral excitement of the most recent discovery of one of the 4200.

American oceanographer and fellow beachcomber Curtis Ebbesmeyer estimates that since the spill, pieces could have floated some 62,000 miles—several times greater than the circumference of the equator, 24,000 miles. This means that ostensibly they could be anywhere, but thus far only finds in Cromwell have been confirmed.

"I go to beachcombing events in Florida and they show me Lego—but it's the wrong kind," he told the BBC. "It's all local stuff kids have left behind."

The pieces that are still being found look perhaps a little bit worse for the wear but have held up remarkably well after all these years at sea. The resilience of plastic is bad news for the environment—and along with treasure hunters, rogue LEGO pieces are sought after by beach clean-up groups—but it also means there will be collectors combing the sands for tiny octopuses and dragons until all 4,756,940 pieces are accounted for.

All photos courtesy of Tracey Williams/Lego Lost At Sea.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
News
From Camreigh to Kayzleigh: Parents Invented More Than 1000 New Baby Names Last Year
iStock
iStock

Look out Mercedes, Bentley, and Royce—there's a new car-inspired name in town. The name Camreigh was recorded for the first time in the U.S. last year, according to Quartz’s take on data released by the U.S. Social Security Administration.

The name was given to 91 babies in 2017, making it the most popular of the 1100 brand-new names that cropped up last year. However, the Social Security Administration only listed names that had been given to at least five babies in 2017, so it's possible that some of the names had been invented before 2017.

An alternate spelling, Kamreigh, also appeared for the first time last year, as did Brexleigh, Kayzleigh, Addleigh, Iveigh, Lakeleigh, and Riverleigh. Swapping out “-y” and “-ey” for “-eigh” at the end of a name has been a growing trend in recent years, and in 20 years or so, the workforce will be filled with Ryleighs, Everleighs, and Charleighs—names that all appeared on a list of the 500 most popular names in 2017.

Following Camreigh, the second most popular new name, appearing 58 times, was Asahd. Meaning “lion” in Arabic, Asahd was popularized in 2016 when DJ Khaled gave his son the name. The American DJ is now attempting to trademark the moniker, which is an alternate spelling of Asad and Assad.

Other names that were introduced for the first time include Iretomiwa (of Nigerian origin) and Tewodros (Ethiopian). The name Arjunreddy (given 12 times) possibly stems from the 2017 release of the Indian, Telugu-language film Arjun Reddy, whose title character is a surgeon who spirals out of control when he turns to alcohol and drugs.

Perhaps an even bigger surprise is the fact that 11 babies were named Cersei in 2017, or, as Quartz puts it, "11 fresh-faced, sinless babies were named after the manipulative, power-hungry, incestuous, helicopter parent-y, backstabbing character from Game of Thrones."

Below are the top 20 most popular new names in 2017.

1. Camreigh
2. Asahd
3. Taishmara
4. Kashdon
5. Teylie
6. Kassian
7. Kior
8. Aaleiya
9. Kamreigh
10. Draxler
11. Ikeni
12. Noctis
13. Sayyora
14. Mohana
15. Dakston
16. Knoxlee
17. Amunra
18. Arjunreddy
19. Irtaza
20. Ledgen

[h/t Quartz]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
arrow
fun
Build Your Own Harry Potter Characters With LEGO's New BrickHeadz Set

Harry Potter is looking pretty square these days. In a testament to the enduring appeal of the boy—and the franchise—who lived, LEGO has launched a line of Harry Potter BrickHeadz.

The gang’s all here in this latest collection, which was recently revealed during the toymaker’s Fall 2018 preview in New York City. Other highlights of that show included LEGO renderings of characters from Star Wars, Incredibles 2, and several Disney films, according to Inside The Magic.

The Harry Potter BrickHeadz collection will be released in July and includes figurines of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and even Hedwig. Some will be sold individually, while others come as a set.

A Ron Weasley figurine
LEGO

A Hermione figurine
LEGO

A Dumbledore figurine
LEGO

Harry Potter fans can also look forward to a four-story, 878-piece LEGO model of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which will be available for purchase August 1. Sets depicting the Whomping Willow, Hogwarts Express, and a quidditch match will hit shelves that same day.

[h/t Inside The Magic]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios