Falmouth, MA

Unidentified floating object washes ashore, sparks debate

Tracey Folly

An unidentified floating object washed ashore at Castle Beach, Tinners Walk, Falmouth, United Kingdom last week. The eagle-eyed local who first spotted the object contacted the local authorities, and the Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team showed up to investigate.

As reported by The Packet, the identity of the mysterious object has not been confirmed, but the Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team thinks they know what it is. They just haven't revealed their suspicions yet.

You can check out photos of the object at the bottom of the page and then leave your guess in the comments. In the meantime, several readers commented to let The Packet know what they think it is.

Ambergris? ~FalmouthRob
Found the same thing on a beach in north Devon on the 20/11/22. Weird texture, we thought maybe it was ballist?? ~George Davies

One reader didn't post a guess but suggested a way the mystery may be solved instead.

There are Apps available online to download, which can identify objects from an uploaded image, maybe one of those could possibly help. ~Gilly Zella Martin

The Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team posted the following statement on their official Facebook page:

Everyone loves a mystery washed up object! This afternoon we were called to an ‘unknown’ object washed ashore at Castle Beach, Falmouth Team members attended, investigated and removed said object to a safe place for collection by the local authority. We ‘think’ we know what it was, but anyone have any ideas? Answers in the comments below.

Facebook users were quick to provide multiple theories for the object and/or its origin. From ambergris (i.e. whale vomit) and burnt wood to a mammoth tooth, cordite, and whale blubber, there was no shortage of guesses. Only one of them can be correct.

For my money, I'm going with the rubber bale theory.

It seems that rubber bales from a WWII-era sunken ship have been washing ashore since 2020, and they look remarkably similar to the mysterious object found in Falmouth.

The rubber bales were on a German ship that was sunk by the United States off the coast of Brazil in January 1944 during World War II. According to Padre Island National Seashore:

In January 1944, the SS Rio Grande, a German blockade runner, was carrying tin, copper, cobalt and crude rubber bales when she was spotted by the USS Omaha (a cruiser) and USS Jouett (a destroyer) off the coast of Brazil. Realizing that they had been spotted, the crew of the Rio Grande abandoned the ship and its cargo after purposely trying to sink (ie scuttle) it. The Omaha and Jouett fired on the Rio Grande until it sank, sending all its cargo to the ocean bottom where it was resting until recently.

Check out the pictures of the object found in Falmouth below, and then compare it to the final photo showing one of the rubber bales from the SS Rio Grande.

In the above photo, a member of the Falmouth Coastguard Rescue Team poses beside the mysterious object that washed ashore at Castle Beach, Tinners Walk, Falmouth, United Kingdom.

In the above photo, you can see the unusual texture of the object.

Another close-up of the object shows more detail.

What is this thing? Opinions are mixed, but I'm going with rubber bales as seen above. Please leave your guess in the comments.

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