by Elizabeth Gamillo/Smithsonianmag.com
Along the beaches of Cornwall, England’s southwestern peninsula, locals and tourists alike have been finding more than just seashells along the seashore. Colorful ocean-themed Legos of octopuses with twisting tentacles, miscellaneous scuba gear, boxy whales, and other plastic pieces have been washing ashore for the last 25 years—a grim reminder of the lasting impacts of plastic pollution.
On February 13, 1997, about five million Legos were lost at sea when a rogue wave tipped a massive cargo ship dubbed the Tokio Express. Ironically, many of the kits were sea creature themed. The event, known as the Great Lego Spill, is the worst toy-related environmental disaster of all time, and beachcombers still uncover the shipwrecked plastic treasures today, reports Mindy Weisberger for Live Science.
The Lego pieces aboard the Tokio Express were among 62 shipping containers that tumbled off the vessel. The ship was en route to New York after it loaded its cargo in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when an unpredictable 28-foot wave smashed into a cargo ship 20 miles off the mainland, reports Jackie Butler for Cornwall Live. Other items swept to sea included 10,000 disposable lighters, superglue, and other hazardous chemicals.