lego | United Kingdom | Wreckage of a container containing 5 million Lego pieces still appears in the sea and attracts researchers after 26 years | Cornwall | Japan | Novel | European Commission Stories | world

Tracey Williams walks the beaches of Cornwall with a large black bag in her hand and her eyes fixed on the sand – searching for the elusive, wingless green dragon said to exist in the waters of Land’s End.

Although Tracy says she would also be very happy if she found a yellow life raft, a red propeller, or one of those elusive black octopuses. He’s talking about Legos.

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They ended up at sea in 1997, when a ship arriving from Japan lost several containers in a storm before docking in Southampton. One was loaded with Legos, many of which were shapes indicating the ocean.

“When I moved to Cornwall in 2010 and went to the beach for the first time, I was very surprised that they were still coming to the beach after all this time,” Tracey told the BBC.

Today, he says, the Lego story seems to have taken over his life. “It started out as fun, and now it’s a full-time job,” he says. “I think it’s interesting to be able to see the impact of lost payload and how long it lasts.”

Lego bricks have almost become part of the landscape of the Corniche beaches. (Tracy Williams).

Tracy was amazed by the amount of plastic, and became a member of a beach clean-up group in Cornwall. In addition, he created a Facebook page, where he wanted to connect with people who had found Lego pieces and find out what types of pieces they had.

Currently, the Lego Lost at Sea account has more than 73,000 followers on Facebook and 25,000 on Instagram.

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He says the pages help get an estimate of how many Lego pieces were collected and compare that data to the shipment that came on board.

Tracy has an inventory of what was in the original shipment: “We have the numbers because in 1997, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebsemeier wrote to LEGO and asked them what was in the missing container,” Tracy says.

Among many other items, the container carried 28,700 yellow inflatable rafts, 52,000 red propellers, 4,200 black octopuses, 33,427 black dragons, 514 green dragons, and more than 15,000 sharks.

Despite numerous discoveries of other pieces, not a single shark has ever been found.

“I think it’s a huge puzzle, a 5-million-piece puzzle and we haven’t even gotten started on it yet. “We’re just getting an idea of ​​what the cover art is going to look like.”

Many of the pieces in the container pointed to the sea. (Tracy Williams).

Having been present in Cornwall’s waters for many years, Lego pieces have become part of the region’s collective imagination.

For Gwyneth Bailey’s family, Legos connect her to her mother. Gwyneth told the BBC: “When our mother was between 70 and 80 years old, she was walking on the beach and found a black dragon.”

He realized it was a Lego toy and thought it was cool. The story ran in the family, and since we’ve all been coming on holiday to Cornwall since we were little, we’ve always looked for shells, but above all, we’ve looked for dragons, little daisies, little bricks and pirates. tools.”

Mrs. Floxin, a resident of the area, told the BBC that her husband began collecting garbage from the beaches, because he was concerned about the extent of the filth he saw, and thinking about the future of his grandchildren.

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“Every day after work I would go to the beach, pick up the trash and put it in the garage. He found a dragon,” Ms. Floxin says.

“One of the dragons went with him to the other world and the other over my fireplace.”

Part of the shipment of 5 million Lego pieces went to the bottom of the sea. (Tracy Williams).

Rob Arnold, an environmentalist who lives in Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, creates artworks using plastic he collects on beaches in a bid to raise people’s awareness of its impact on the oceans.

Rob says he and his friends collected more than 25 million pieces of plastic and microplastic from a single beach, with more than 1,000 Lego fins inside.

“It can be overwhelming. But there are ways to turn those feelings into something positive, and I think Lego interests me, it’s something fun that allows me to keep going in the middle of all this terrible garbage.”

Another factor to take into consideration is the portion of the payload that would have remained on the ocean floor, never floating to the surface and never reaching the shores.

To try to find an answer, Tracy contacted Dr. Andrew Turner, from the University of Plymouth, to try to determine how much Lego pieces remain at the bottom and how much they reach the surface.

As he discovered, some goods can pose a long-term problem: “Materials that sink cannot be seen, which means they are difficult to recover. But that means they could last hundreds or thousands of years.”

“A lot of this material will become part of the lithosphere.”

This may be the fate of 15,000 Lego sharks whose fate remains unknown.

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For Tracy, the ideal solution would be to search for the missing container. (Tracy Williams).

Tracy looks at the sea curiously and wonders about the missing containers.

“What we would really like to do is one day go look for containers. “We don’t know if they exist, but it would be very interesting to find out what is out there.”

“And we’re just talking about the contents of the container. It has been said that around 10,000 containers fall into the sea every year, although it is now estimated that there are much fewer, they still contain a huge amount of plastic in the ocean.

He asserts that although he believes it is necessary to “close the plastic switch” that brought humanity to this stage, he has nothing against matter. Its battle is against what it says are unnecessary plastic materials that can be replaced with other materials.

“I think the LEGO leak was unfortunate, but it was an incident that highlighted the whole plastic problem in a way that everyone can understand and identify.”

“People love to find a Lego piece when they clean beaches, and they see it as a reward or a piece of treasure,” he says.

“Who doesn’t want a black dragon? Or better yet, a green dragon?”, asks Tracy.

This is an adaptation of an English-language radio documentary from BBC Radio 4. To hear the original version of the story in English, you can go here.

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